Joana Vasconcelos is a working artist who enjoys creating art in many different mediums. I like several of the different things that she’s done but of course it is her crochet art that has captured my interest most. All of her work, including her crochet work, weaves together themes of womanhood, femininity, strength, and societal roles. This art challenges people to look at what defines women and women’s art and to question any assumptions made about those things. I think that this is an important issue for crochet artists today since crochet is typically considered a woman’s craft and may not be given equality in the art world despite its popularity in culture and fashion.
A little bit more about Joana Vasconcelos
- According to the bio on her website, Joana Vasconcelos was born in Paris in 1971 but moved to Portugal where she now does her artwork. She studied visual art at the college level. Her website shows a portfolio of her work dating back as far as 1994.
- Vasconcelos gained a lot of media attention a few years back when she made a stunning chandelier out of tampons. The work was actually quite intriguing even though it’s not what I’m most interested in from her portfolio.
- Much of the crochet work that she has done is large scale. Lovely Textiles points out that it has its roots in sculpture art. She has even been called “the sculptress of crochet”. One of her methods is that she takes sculptures and covers them in crochet.
- There are two main factors that make Vasconcelos’ exhibition engaging and exciting. One is the technical skill involved in her magical enveloping of cotton crochet, the other, is the eclectic taste for different materials: from fabric to ceramic, to plastic, tiles and rubber.” (source)
- “She also uses the crochet work to draw the viewer in (it’s often said that the average person spends about 30 seconds in front of a piece of art). According to Joana, “Handcraft gives you three things: time, repetition, and then, when things are repeated over and over again, they become abstract.” She thinks of the crochet as a drawing or pattern on the work.” (source)
Examples of Joana’s crochet art
The crochet art that I first noticed was her work using crochet doilies. I found it interesting because white doilies are such a stereotypical object representing the outdated culture of crochet. In other words, that’s what we think of as “grandma’s crochet”. And yet, Vasconcelos pairs this with objects that aren’t old (like computers) or feminine (like bulls) for a really intriguing effect. Take a look:
I also enjoy the sculptures that she does that include crochet work over them that aren’t in the form of just white doilies:
She also has some interested felted and wool work. It’s not necessarily all crochet work but it’s in the same family. The colors are what attracts me to these pieces:
Question of the day
Vasconcelos urges us to take the “women’s craft” of crochet seriously as an art form. What are your thoughts about this issue?