Johanna Finnegan-Topitzer

Birds of Sorrow: House Finch
mixed media, sculptural book
[7" x 6" x 11" (wingspan)]
sculpture/wall sculpture

Media: Books + Paper, Mixed-Media, Sculpture

Vernon Street Studios
6 Vernon Street 15 1/2

MAP # 58

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My artwork tells stories. They are stories about animals and the relationship between humans and animals. Sometimes the stories are printed in text on the work itself. Sometimes the story is told in a simple poem. And sometimes simple images tell the story without words.

I look to the ancient tales of our ancestors for inspiration and research how they related to the animal world. Most cultures have stories about how animals helped shape our world and these are the folktales that I want to celebrate. Modern day tales of human-animal relationships also influence my work. From the way we treat or mistreat to the companionship we share, I strive to express this connection.

My current project involves using folktales from different cultures to express and glorify the relationship humans once had with the animal world. Too often in our modern society, the animal world is forgotten. Things that are forgotten are not cared for. I am attempting to bring back the messages folktales tell of the importance of the animal world to our survival. To this end, I am making large scale wall pieces of wood and paper that illustrate a folktale. Within these wall sculptures are boxes containing books bound in the style of the culture from which the tale is from. The book contains the folktale and is meant to be read by the viewer.

My artistic training was in the traditional craft of hand Bookbinding at the North Bennet Street School in Boston, MA and my graduate study was in the field of Folklore at University College Cork in Ireland. I use the skills and knowledge from both of these intellectual pursuits in my work. I use a variety of media: wood, metal, paper, bookboard, watercolor, clay, and wood.

Johanna Finnegan-Topitzer