Experimenting with my practice at the first edition of DATEAGLE ART’S Three Day Residency.
Feelings develop in Joy Miessi’s nostalgic yet vivid works that not only explore themes of race, gender, culture, class, and sexuality but also are also concerned in blending flatness with layering, fusing shape, line, and colour, along with incorporating language.
Joy Miessi (b.1993) studied illustration at Portsmouth University, London (UK). She has exhibited widely in the UK at Alev Lenz Studio, Transmissions Gallery, Republic Gallery, Black & White Building, Copeland Gallery, 198 Gallery, Victoria & Albert Museum, The Yard Theatre, Buster Mantis, St Katharine’s Precinct, and Protein Studios. Residencies include: Limewharf, and dateagleart (UK). She currently lives and works in London.
My name is Joy Miessi. I am a freelance artist exploring social themes such as race and sexuality. My usual medium is paper, I cut out shapes and layer textures to compose the background for my images. So my invitation by dateagleart to work for three days to create six canvases was slightly out of my comfort zone. Despite this, I accepted the challenge and saw it as an opportunity to experiment with my practice.
I had made sketches and notes about each outcome and the themes I wanted to explore. For the first day, I set myself the task of completing two works, using acrylic (to save time) and using my my favourite tools such as oil pastels and bars. I worked in the same way as my usual method by using block colours for the background and sectioning off areas that would be a contrasting colour. I quickly became used to being filmed as this is something I do for myself at home when creating art pieces, so it had little effect on my process. On the first day I was able to make the piece ‘Cola’ and ‘Congo Calls Min’. ‘Cola’ is a self-portrait piece about acceptance and growth. It talks about my relationship with my hair and compares locs to individual women who have been the root and tip of my growth. ‘Congo Calls Min’ is a visual documenting the financial pressures of a young person today, a first generation experience in particular. By the end of the day, I’d quickly learnt that canvas isn’t that different from working on paper, it is slightly more time consuming but the process itself is worth every minute, being able to focus on filling areas in colour and express emotion through brush strokes made it quite a therapeutic experience.
Two more blank canvases. By this point, I figured working on two a day was manageable and where pieces needed to dry I would then work on the other piece, switching between the two. I created ‘Spill’ and ‘Real’ on this day. I came prepared with full battery on my ipod and listened to D’angelo albums in chronological order to get me through. I had set plans for both pieces this day but felt heavily inspired by a moment on the overground train the evening before. A mother told off her child for not ‘sitting properly’ and told her if she didn’t she’d punish her by making her wear tracksuits and trousers ‘like boys’. The kid didn’t really care and kept on, but the mother kept using this as a threat along with a slap to get her kid to behave ‘like a girl’. It was a very odd moment, I should add I was sat opposite in tracksuits and there was queer couple opposite in shorts. I used this moment to create ‘Real’ which is a painting about policing and expectations of what we are to be as black women. I didn’t mind that I had strayed from my original plan as I intend for my works to be a reflection of the now and to document real life.
On this day, I created two final pieces, ‘Do You Know Your Middle’ being a self-portrait reflection of myself in the moment and ‘Ellen/LN’ an overview of everything made during the three day residency. Using all colours from half dried out palettes that I’d forgotten to clean during the residency, I used these colours on this final piece to create a merge of every other piece into one. It is without a doubt a visual mess, which I feel describes my entire body of work quite well. ‘Ellen/LN’ is everything as one and is what brings ends this series of work. By the end of the residency, I had surprised myself by how I was able to ease into a new format and work on canvas comfortably. Knowing that there isn’t a right or wrong way to create takes away the fear of trying something new and allowed me to create freely. The key thing about the residency was being given the space and canvases to work, it made me my artistic potential which has only become restricted by lack of space and finance. Being able to see what I am capable of making was a push to keep experimenting and expanding rather than settling within my comfort zone.
Words by JOY MIESSI