Joanne Aono speaks much of duality in her piece ‘Aono (Blue Fields) East and West.’ A Japanese-American artist, born here in Chicago, Joanne uses her works, many of them diptychs, to compare and contrast her heritage, her identity as a twin and the boundaries between positive and negative space.
This particular piece was done with oil pencil, and two different colors of graphite. In many of her pieces Joanne uses minimalistic color schemes and instead focuses on the image as a whole. This allows the piece to retain a calm and tranquil quality in reflection of her Japanese heritage. She hand inscribes barely seen text beneath the image giving the story of her Grandparent’s passage from Japan to America and the change that it brought. Many of the inscriptions tell of her bi-cultural ancestry, and the diptychs allow her to express being part a collective body of people within the same world as well as being an individual person. We all want to be part of something greater than ourselves while still maintaining our individuality and Joanne captures this flawlessly within her different themed works.
One part of this piece depicts the waves of the Pacific Ocean while the other is that of Lake Michigan. Aono’s name means ‘blue fields’ which she compares to the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean and the waters of Lake Michigan. After hand inscribing the boards she overlays them with the graphite, paint or pastel, using her drawing tools like Hashi (chopsticks).
Her work while completely unique carries minimalist qualities and uses balance and unity much like the artist Eva Hesse and her piece ‘Metronomic Irregularity I’ which plays with the positive and negative space of the piece as well. Many believe this piece by Hesse also represented her need to connect to others at the time that this particular work was made. ‘Blue fields’ as well as ‘Metronomic Irregularity I’ both have a sense of unity, symmetrical balance and speak to the viewer about connection to something, whether that be ancestry, to each other as human beings or cultural divides.
The work ‘Blue fields’ is intricate in its simplicity yet speak volumes to the complexity of human life, the text fading in and out of the waves and the subtle, muted colors of the graphite give a sense of quiet beauty, ancestry and remind us of who we are and who might become.
Aono’s piece “Blue Fields East West” is in the “I AMerican” exhibit on view through September 30, 2014 in the Visual Arts Gallery at Governors State University.
written by guest contributor Jessica Roeda and edited by Jeff Stevenson