Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Green Springs Opening!

George Mason University Printmaker's Guild Presents:
Gifts from the Garden
at Green Springs Garden Park
4603 Green Springs Road
Alexandria, VA 22312

Come see the beautiful exchange portfolio on view in the main building.

Opening Reception: Sunday, Dec 6, 2009 from 1-3pm

The exhibit will be on display from December 1 through January 30, 2009

Ink-N-Print Opening

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Classes at Potomac Arts Academy

I am teaching on Saturdays at George Mason's Potomac Arts Academy located in the New Fine Arts Building:
Artful Animals I :: 6 Week Session
9:30 -11am (Room L004) Grades 3-5
11am- 12:30pm (Room L004) Grades 6-8

Session 1: September 19, 26; October 3, 10, 17, 24
Session 2: November 7, 14, 21; December 5, 12, 19

Adult Drawing Classes :: 8 Sessions beginning Oct 3
(Room 2049)

more information at http://www.potomacacademy.org/

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

MFA Thesis: Chapter 2

I was fortunate as a child to be exposed to animals in literature at an early age. The tales of Aesop, James Herriot, Anna Sewell, Walter Farley and Jack London graced the “kids shelf” on our bookshelf. The tales were invigorating, and we let our imaginations go wild. My brothers and I would scan the pages of a National Geographic picture encyclopedia of mammals, pick out our animal, and then act the part. We wrestled each other to the ground, heads first like the elk; one of us would scamper up on a table as the other paced below like a monkey in a tree with a lion below; at top speed we dashed through the kitchen and into the yard as the fleet-footed gazelle outran the cheetah. Actual animals were overkill in a house with four kids with active imaginations. Nonetheless, my siblings and I constantly lobbied for pets, which came much later at an age of responsibility.

Perhaps due to my tomboyish attitude, I rejected dolls and cherished a collection of animals. I had many stuffed toys that I named and cared for as if they were real, hoping for a Velveteen Rabbit moment. My aunt made me a knick-knack shelf to display my small glass animals, plastic horses, onyx donkey and polar bear, flocked squirrel and cat with mirror eyes my grandmother gave me, and countless other treasures. Arranging the shelf was a ritual for me, calling each piece by name, dusting it off, and replacing it on the shelf. I treated the animals in my collection with the reverence of an idol, and in this process the real animals they represented were becoming sacred in my mind as well. And yet they were not so sacred that I could not indulge in playing with them, or creating a life for them. I believed they wanted to be warm on snowy nights, or that I must rotate their position on the shelf so they could visit with their friends. These wants of the objects made them akin to fetish objects, but overall they were my friends and comforts, and because “the animal itself is also the totem” (Mitchell, p. 178), they became totemic objects, wanting to be my friend and companion (Mitchell, p. 194).

Having such an affinity for animals, they became my favorite subjects to draw. I copied them from photos, illustrations from my favorite books or popular “How to Draw…” manuals. I began combining animal types and decorating them with Technicolor pattern, such as a giraffe head and neck with the body of a lion, covered in spots and stripes of all colors. I was making work that resembled the “marginal hybrids” of medieval manuscripts, “referred to as ‘hybrids’ because they appear to have the features of two, three, or even more different animals” (Morrison, p. 71). These animals and the decorative look of manuscripts would prove a source of great inspiration in upcoming artworks.

Figure 1. Detail from childhood drawing of animal with pawed front feet, hoofed back feet and wings. Crayon on construction paper, c. 1990.

As I became interested in art in high school and college, my subject matter was swayed by academia and I drew still lives, portraits and other typical subject matter, trying to work in an animal whenever I could. During this early art school phase I made awful art, drawing what I thought the professor would want, or whatever the assignment was: fortune cookies, popcorn, still lives straight from a box of junk in the art closet. My printmaking class was the first to allow open subject matter, because the technique alone was so demanding. My professor, E.C. Cunningham, suggested I look at literary themes such as fairy tales and myth. This opened up a door for me to use animals as characters and symbols in my work. Animals allowed me to be confident in my subject matter so that I could focus on technique. As I built my skill base, my work was becoming more cohesive; concepts were building on animals as metaphors for personal situations and feelings.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Group Exhibition at Reyes+Davis

This piece is about life cycles and the repetition of emotions, thoughts and actions that serve to bring us from one part of life to another.
On View at Reyes+Davis Independent Exhibitions
923 F Street, NW #302
Washington, DC 20004

September 11 - October 16 2009
Opening Reception Friday September 11, 6:30pm-9pm

Featuring the work of Gallery Artists Jeff Huntington, Judy Jashinsky, Pepa Leon, Michael Enn Sivet, and Johanna Mueller. www.reyesdavis.com

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Printmaking Classes! Tell all your Friends!!!!

I will be teaching a relief printmaking class at the Arlington Arts Center Tuesdays the 4th and the 11th of August, 7- 9:30pm. The cost is $40 and a small materials fee. I will be teaching linoleum and wood block carving using hand printing.

It should be a good time! Contact the Arlington Art Center to sign up or for more information at 703-248-6800.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Frogman's Print and Paper Workshop

(Copper plates and stages of a print, by Oscar Gillespie.)

I attended Frogman's Print and Paper workshop this last week, and as always had an amazing week. Frogman's is the child of Lloyd Menard, recently retired professor emeritus of the University of South Dakota (USD) in Vermillion, SD. What started as a renegade camping workshop with tents and printing presses in the Black Hills is now a flourishing workshop hosted in the classrooms of the art department of USD. Every year, Frogman's invites the finest professors in the nation to teach their craft for a week. If you are at all interested in prints or printmaking, it is for beginners and advanced printers. Check it out at http://www.frogmans.net/Workshop.htm.

Every year I meet amazing people, get a chance to talk shop, trade printing secrets, trade prints, and watch people go crazy at the local bowling alley and karaoke bar. This year I took metal engraving with Oscar Gillespie. Oscar is a world renown metal engraver and his prints are some of my all time favorites.

Copper engraving by Oscar Gillespie, based on a Leonard Baskin sketch of a beast

Many of the links listed on the side are notable printmakers from the workshop--check them out!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Group Exhibition

Reyes + Davis Group Exhibition

Opening Reception: Friday, June 5, 2009

Exhibition Dates: June 3-29, 2009
more information at www.reyesdavis.com

MPA Strictly Painting

Join me for Opening Night: Thursday, June 18 7-9pm

This biennial juried exhibition presents the work of artists exploring the medium of painting who reside in the Mid-Atlantic region. Juried by well-known independent curator Vivienne Lassman, the exhibit includes works by twenty four artists who were chosen from almost two hundred entrants.

M c L E A N P R O J E C T F O R T H E A R T S



PHONE: 703.790.1953 WWW.MPAART.ORG

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It's that time of the year again... ART-O-MATIC!

This year the building is at 55 M Street, S.E. (at the corner with Half Street)
Washington, DC 20003

My space is on the 7th floor, near the bar and Art-o-matic store, overlooking the National Ballpark.  Purchase work you see at Art-o-matic through PayPal on my official website http://www.johannamuellerprints.com.
Hope to see you there!

Opening Night: May 29 
Exhibition runs May 29– July 5, 2009
Hours of Operation:
Wed-Thurs 5pm-10pm
Fri-Sat 12noon-1pm
Sunday 12noon-10pm

Metro stop: Green Line, Navy Yard, Ballpark exit
Free admission. Donations accepted.

More information at http://www.artomatic.org

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I am a real artist now! I graduated this week from George Mason University with an MFA in Printmaking!

And now, the first installment of my thesis paper, for those who are interested:

1. Why Animals?


“We patronize the animals for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves.  And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man.  In a world older and more complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.  They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, congruent with ourselves in the net of life and time…”

— Henry Beston (Writer and Naturalist)


Animals become metaphors in my work, often used as self-portraiture or portraits of others or as symbols for a situation or human emotion. Many scholars have argued that animals were the first metaphors in human language, and as John Berger remarks, “the first subject matter for painting was animal. Probably the first paint was animal blood. Prior to that, it is not unreasonable to suppose that the first metaphor was animal” (Mitchell, p. 185).  However, animals as subject matter are questioned in contemporary art and frequently overlooked. 


Although animals are often found in artworks of the European masters, they likely play a secondary role or are in service to humans, such as the dog at the feet of the couple in Van Eyck’s Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and His Wife, Giovanna Cenami, or the horses ridden by Albrecht Dürer’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Non-western primitive cultures used the animal in conjunction with the human as in Egyptian, Indian and Native American art. These civilizations were eventually colonized by the West, leading to degradation of their artwork and the idolatrous branding of their animal gods.  The Western influence subconsciously lurks in the heads of most Western critics, and my own professors often asked in critique sessions why I use animals as my subject matter. I found the question “Why animals?” ridiculous at first, why paint portraits, or print landscapes, or draw still lives? I was asked in a critique why I hadn’t used the human figure, and I replied, “They are not interesting to me right now.” This has been the same reason throughout history, from Aesop to the Ogallala, to Orwell, that “all these types of stories used animal characters as symbols of human behaviors and actions—–either those to imitate or to avoid.  The substitution of animals for humans often made the messages in the stories more palatable or, at the very least, more entertaining” (Morrison, p. 57). 


In this tradition, my artwork revolves around a narrative that incorporates metaphor and symbol.  The stereotypes that accompany animal characters in Aesop, Grimm, the Bible, and bestiary writings have influenced my own metaphors for the animals. However, when the animal enters my print, it takes on the meaning of the narrative I have given it.  My work is quite different in its intentions than a traditional bestiary or “book of beasts,” which “was a collection of stories about creatures both real and fanciful in which the characteristics seen as typical of a particular animal were ascribed moral or Christian meaning” (Morrison, p. 64), and thus most read as parables, describing the animal and how it related to the way life should be lived, although some read as pseudo-scientific record of animal life.  I have taken meaning from Aesop, Grimm, Anderson, and folk stories of other origins, adding layers of meaning to make the animal something new in my narratives. 

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Carnivore: New For Art-O-Matic

Carnivore, 4.5" x 3.5"
Relief Engraving

Monday, April 13, 2009

Engraving Classes!

I will be teaching plastic plate engraving this summer at Reyes+Davis Independent Exhibitions, in the heart of Washington, DC.  I will walk students through designing a drawing for engraving, transferring drawing to plates, carving, hand printing, and editioning their work.  

Please join me Tuesday and Thursday evenings in June, from 6:30-8:30 pm at 923 F Street.  Cost $300, with $50 material fee.  Please email me at feverishart@yahoo.com for more information.

New Mixed Media Monotypes

Dog and Antelope, 2009

Falling Dogs, 2009

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Reyes+Davis Opening: March 6, 2009; 6:30-9pm

Please join me for the opening of my first solo show in DC at Reyes+Davis Independent Exhibitions on Friday, March 6, from 6:30-9pm!

I will be speaking on Saturday, March 21, from 2-4 pm in the gallery space about my concepts, stories, and processes with Helen Frederick.  Please come to gain insight on the stories surrounding the prints and the printmaking process.  

923 F Street NW #302
Washington DC 20004
Wed-Fri 1-6pm; Sat 1-5pm; and by appointment

Saturday, February 14, 2009

MFA show photos

Artist Book

Friday, January 23, 2009

MFA Thesis Show!!!

Finally! the hard work has paid off, the show is up on the walls!

My Thesis Exhibition, Creature Alterations, Myth & Transformations, is open for viewing Jan. 22 -  30, 10am - 7pm

Join me for the opening reception on Sunday, January 25th 
from 2 -4pm, snacks and drinks, and lots of great art!