JOANIE GAGNON SAN CHIRICO, multimedia artist

photo by Bill Horin

“I started out as a painter but always loved to sew. I realized I could combine the two and have found a niche in textile art,” says Joanie Gagnon San Chirico, Toms River, N.J.

Unlike traditional canvas, providing a neutral surface for the painter’s image, her fabrics act as a distinct element of the whole. The texture, weave and color contribute to the overall message of each piece. Some are stretched, others left in free-form drapery.

San Chirico challenges her audience to understand what’s going on. “I like to create work the viewer has to decipher, that’s not immediately obvious.”

Sometimes she paints directly on the fabric and sometimes begins with a painted design in acrylic that she scans and prints onto the cloth digitally. “Then, I can treat it further, applying varnish, so it tricks the eye and looks like a painting again.”

Preservation is a theme she often revisits. “I am an armchair archeologist and I love exploring old buildings and ruins. I like to focus on things in the world that need preserving and taken care of.”

Her work is installed in a variety of public buildings, including hotels, libraries and hospitals. She is also a busy judge and curator.