Joie Villeneuve breaks it down
Joie Villeneuve and Rae Gooch have built their collaborative art partnership on a foundation of friendship. For their latest piece, ‘Ray of Joy’, the two merge the mediums of painting and sculpture with prose and poetry. In doing so, they transcend the longstanding boundaries between these disciplines, finding a more holistic kind of imagery. The resulting artwork offers the audience an opportunity to connect and reflect on the unfolding story the two artists weave.
Read on to learn more about the project and Villeneuve and Gooch’s approach. Villeneuve also provides commentary on the Eco Arts and cultural ideas that informed her work and the meanings she wanted to capture.
Eco Arts Influence
Villeneuve’s childhood in Minnesota saw her spend a lot of time in the forests of North America. It is here that she developed a great deal of reverence for the mighty Oak Tree. In the intervening years, she came to appreciate its significance and its cross-cultural connotation of wisdom.
I found great solace being in the forest during a time in my life when I felt very alone and very different, grappling to make sense of who I was.Villeneuve
Another catalysing childhood experience was Villeneuve’s ongoing exposure to Indigenous American culture. Of particular interest was the concept of “Two Spirit People”, which was passed down to her. The concept refers to a person who maintains both a masculine and feminine spirit. It reflects the nuanced understandings of gender, sexuality, and spirituality held by Indigenous groups, who viewed the identity as empowering, allowing the individual to express themselves and attain a level of heightened spirituality.
These two childhood experiences inform ‘Ray of Joy’. The mixed media sculpture uses bright colours and vibrant iconography to riff on the idea that an acorn, despite its size, contains all that it needs to grow into exactly what it’s meant to be. For Villeneuve, people are the same, as is the diversity of ways in which they express themselves.
I knew I wanted to create a piece that would reflect that the differences we have are actually what make us powerful within, that just the way we are is perfect and meant to be celebrated.Villeneuve
Collaboration and Mixed Media Art
The collaborative process that Villeneuve and Gooch undertook in creating ‘Ray of Joy’ involved an evolution of fluid ideas that ebbed and flowed as the two explored them at an ever more granular level. With the creative process stretching over a number of months, filled with conversations about the essence of the project, both artists took inspiration from one another, allowing their counterpart to freely weave their own vision of their contribution to the work.
We can be lifted-up and supported by one another, much like the intricate system of roots in a forest supports the health and strength of each tree. A high tide lifts all ships and so can we aspire to lift one another to become a mighty oak tree.Villeneuve
Movement and Interaction
The sculpture features moveable parts, including doors and acorns, as well as text written specifically for the project. These elements invite the viewer to interact with the piece and slow their mind down by tuning into its concept. Through this process, the piece primes them to find that often elusive ‘Ray of Joy’, whatever this means to the individual.
Connection and compassion, acceptance and love can all be found within this magical forest sculpture.Villeneuve
‘Ray of Joy’ is currently on display at the entry to the Understory Art and Nature Trail and will be on display until early April. Book your visit today!
You can also find their work exhibited at the Painted Tree Gallery.