By Krishna Adams, Director of Visual Arts, Craft, Media, and Design –
Multi-disciplinary artist Johana Moscoso of Memphis, Tennessee, is a recipient of the FY24 Individual Artist Fellowship in Craft. The Tennessee Arts Commission awards Individual Artist Fellowships annually to recognize and acknowledge outstanding professional Tennessee artists who, through their work, add to the state’s cultural vitality.
Moscoso was born in Bogotá, Colombia, and currently lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee. Moscoso’s artwork explores the co-narratives of South American and North American cultures from a subjective point of view. Her fiber work uses stitching and embroidering techniques to create abstract maps that trace the time, labor, and nostalgia of her family’s migratory journeys. Hand and machine sewing are integral to her personal history.
In Moscoso’s work, Entre ríos, she laboriously machines and hand-stitched bold multi-colored layers of laser-cut fabric together one layer at a time using the traditional Mola technique. The Mola process is a reverse appliqué method that originated by the Kunas Indigenous Latin American communities in which layers of different colored cloth are nearly invisibly sewn together and then worked on or cut away to reveal a multi-dimensional design. Mola-designed material is often worn on a shirt but may also be used in numerous contemporary ways, including quilt designs or part of wall artwork. In addition to her textile art, Moscoso also creates performance works inspired by fragile human states and expressed through movement. These performances harken to traditional Latine dance and culture.
“My art practice is connected to my experience as a Colombian immigrant. I carry traditions from Colombia and my family. One of them is dancing, and it merges with my fiber work. I danced salsa over some of the cloth panels with bare feet covered in glue, preparing the surface of the fabric for a metallic foil transfer. This process reveals the movements of the dance throughout the shine of golds, silver, and other foils. The salsa that I dance is the one that I learned growing up at family parties.”
In 2005, Moscoso earned her B.F.A. from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia. Then, in 2009, she received an M.F.A. in Sculpture from Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta, GA. Her work has been featured in solo exhibitions at SCAD Museum of Art and Design in Savannah, GA; Art Gallery at Southwest Tennessee Community College and Clough-Hanson Gallery at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN; Lakeside Legacy Arts Park in Crystal Lake, IL; A.C.A. Gallery in Atlanta, GA; OxBow School of Arts and Artists’ Residency in Saugatuck, MI; Au Bon Pain, Cambridge in Boston, MA; and in Chicago, IL at the Chicago Artist Coalition, the Trailer Park Project, and Center for Green Technology. Her work was also in SILOS, an exhibition curated by Dr. Jeffreen M. Hayes, that traveled throughout the U.S.A. In Bogotá, Colombia solo exhibitions here held at Colegio Nueva Granada, the Galería imánarte espacio abierto, and at ArtBox Gallery. Moscoso’s work has also been exhibited in Japan and Serbia. As a professional artist, Moscoso has been the subject of artist talks, has taught numerous workshops as a visiting artist, and participated in various artist residencies.
When asked what Moscoso plans to do with the Individual Artist Fellowship (I.A.F.) funds, she remarked, “This Fellowship is a milestone in my career and will expand my practice. I will learn new processes and practices to create new artwork and develop projects that I am currently working on. The Tennessee Arts Commission’s I.A.F. award will allow me to me invest in movement and dance classes. I will expand my movement knowledge and incorporate it further into my fiber work. I will experiment and use different materials to create the marks of my movements over new pieces. One of the materials that I will experiment with is suede, a screen-printing material.” Remaining funds will be used to purchase equipment and hire a part-time studio assistant.
Moscoso advises artists considering applying for the I.A.F. this fall: “As a multi-disciplinary artist, talk with a friend who knows your work when choosing which I.A.F. category is the best fit. Lastly, always make art to make a good body of work. Always, always make art.”
Earlier this year, Moscoso’s work was in Who is That Artist? An exhibition at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis. This summer Moscoso has been creating work in her studio while experimenting with new materials. The Tennessee Arts Commission will be featuring her work in a solo virtual exhibition next year from August 2, 2024–September 27, 2024.* You can learn more about Moscoso’s work on her website and on Instagram.
*The FY24 Visual Arts adjudicator was unaware of Moscoso’s upcoming exhibition at the Tennessee Arts Commission.