Near the end of 2018, Joanne Tepper Saffren’s partner died unexpectedly from a massive embolism. A year later, she was joined in solidarity with the world in grief and loneliness from the pandemic.
After her loss, her home — filled with objects, furniture, and clothes — felt nostalgically embedded with memories, stand-ins for our fragility, and reminders of our mortality. In an intuitive dialogue between the psyche and the altered meanings of “home," Joanne began making artwork to explore this perceived connection.
In her recent work, the chair becomes the substrate, filled like a suitcase with the shirts left hanging on her husband’s side of the closet, each cyanotyped and dyed blue. An image of a road and clouds, cyanotyped on silk veil fabric covers the chair’s back. Comforting, holding, solid and physical in this world, while its essence, like plato’s chairness, exists elsewhere. A fragile branch holds shirts, dyed blue and embroidered. “It’s Nice To Be With You.” A love note, left by her partner. Decades old, the words take on new meaning through the lens of loss.
Joanne Tepper Saffren's visual art and writing practices explore the expression of the psyche. Driven by experimentation, she inquires into the conscious and unconscious, making forms that surround concepts of home, memory, precarity and ephemerality. Challenged by notions of genre and media, her work spans a multitude of disciplines and draws poetry and inspiration from humble materials.
Originally from Los Angeles and now based in Sacramento, Tepper Saffren received her Bachelors in Fine Arts in 1978 from Otis School of Art and Design. For over 35 years, she worked as a graphic designer, art director and teaching artist while continuing her fine art practice. In 2018 Joanne received her Masters in Fine Arts from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is currently a Verge resident artist and an Axis Gallery Member in Sacramento. She is also a member of Mother Art: Revisited, based in Chicago and Domestic Collective.