Joanna Astor Bergelson

My biomorphic abstractions develop organically. I enjoy creating a surface (often a monotype) that I can respond to -- pulling out imagery by painting, drawing or collaging into subtleties I perceive in that surface. In fiction, I find it's the smallest details that make the universal accessible to the reader on a personal level. Similarly, in my abstractions, I hope the smallest details give the viewer a seductive gateway into an artwork's microcosm and its vast possibilities of evocation.

The crafting of the titles is a culminating and satisfying part of my experience of creating. I am constantly on the lookout in my reading and listening for phrases that resonate with my own visceral responses to the images I create – and that help viewers find their own stories in my abstract imagery.

In addition to abstractions, I enjoy creating whimsical representational work, often for specific people and occasions, in two dimensions (primarily watercolor) and three dimensions (ceramics or papier- mâché). No matter what medium I'm working in, or whether the piece is abstract or representational, my goal is to create a beauty that has tension or a tender awkwardness. I hope that with these qualities, a piece transcends decoration and, rather than being merely precious, becomes somehow essential.

I'm incredibly lucky that I work as a middle-school art teacher. Being a teacher has an enormous impact on me as an artist, a parent and a person. Middle-school students are at a developmental stage in which achieving realism in their drawings is a primary goal, so they often don’t appreciate their more expressive work, even when I do. I try to expose my students to materials and artists new to them. I love watching them surprise themselves with what they can create, and am constantly surprised by their conceptual creativity.

If you're interested in purchasing any of the work on my site or commissioning an illustrative work, or if you have any questions or comments, please use the "Contact" link above.

"Joanna Astor's small Surrealistic abstraction… conveys a mysterious place where angst meets experimentation."
D. Dominick Lombardi, The New York Times

"Joanna Astor's miniature…[which is] an organic, colorful mixed-media work, makes a kind of abstract music that replaces representational narrative."
Doug Norris, South County Independent