Professor of Art, Joan Linder
Professor of Art Joan Linder is best known for her labor- intensive drawings which transform mundane subjects into conceptually rich images. Life size representations of figures and objects explore themes such as the banality of mass produced domestic artifacts, the politics of war, sexual identity, and power. This past year she has sketched brownfields and hidden toxic waste sites in and around Niagara Falls, the Tonawandas, and Love Canal. Supported by a UB Humanities Institute fellowship and UB’s Technē Institute for Arts and Emerging Technologies, Linder has crisscrossed the area near Love Canal, parking along chain-link fences, on dead-end, crumbling streets and overgrown urban meadows to peer closely at the dirt and even sit among scrubby weeds and roadside flowers to capture their shape on paper, or take photos so she can spend hours recreating the landscapes in her home studio. In one large drawing, a meter square, she painstakingly outlines the shapes of ground flora, coloring in some leaves, a flower petal or stamen here, a pebble there. But the ground itself she mostly leaves blank or faintly crosshatched, perhaps to represent the huge questions that remain beneath it. “In all of my work, I tend to be interested in the negative space as much as what’s there, what’s solid,” she says.
Linder often gives the personal and political meanings behind her work a touch of humor, tackling hot-button issues including sexual identity, technology, and family. One show, “Sink,” included sketches of the contents of her own sink during the years she was home with two children. “Those dirty dishes seemed to echo the ‘women’s work’ I was immersed in at the time,” she says. She’s sketched human cadavers in UB’s Gross Anatomy Lab. She’s drawn all of the knickknacks and paraphernalia behind the bar at one of Buffalo’s most infamous watering holes, the Old Pink. The series of works Linder completed in the gross anatomy lab include not only renderings of cadavers, but also pen-and-ink interpretations of the heart, lungs and brain.