The fictional world of J. Concetta’s canvases has a booming population.
With unmixed, transparent layers’ inks and dyes, Concetta creates imagination-piquing, Mesozoic-invoking layers. Each fixed flash of characters – a marvelous, fast-paced menagerie – is full of facial expressions (or sometimes, lack of expressions) of bright, loveably invented creatures.
Though the creatures boast scales, teeth, tongues, and other ostensible accessories of ferocity, their monstrous attributes lay in their expressions.
“Often the faces in my paintings are meant to depict the way we think others view us. They stare in judgment - good or bad?,” she says. “We don’t really know what they are thinking and are meant to ponder that question.”
These puzzling expressions is the end result of a painterly evolution. Each one of her work begins with color.
“I get enthused about using a particular group of colors together,” she describes as the onset of the creative rush that accelerates her painting.
The scene in J. Concetta’s studio
After graduate school, Concetta worked as an inker in an animation studio in Minneapolis. Her paintings today have inherited an animator’s imaginative playfulness, expressive characters, and vivid colors.
She explains, “my tendencies to use characters or figures in my work, extremely bright hues and even the inking techniques I learned there are all present in my current work.”
Let’s spare a moment for the inkers of the world. Inking is a profession that has a remarkable history. It was one of those tricksy professions that allowed women to slyly slip into a man’s world, at a time when “a man’s world” was a viable phrase. Women’s creative hands would ink and paint the combustible cels that would reel into movies like Snow White.
In turn, these female inkers – cramped handed and tired eyed – are a symbol of female progress into the art world and sustained J. Concetta.
Concetta’s signature look also is influenced by her full and colorful childhood. She describes the experience of living in a household of eight,
“Life was lively with a Sicilian grandmother and her colorful friends and relatives visiting and a mother that encouraged our imagination and dreams,” she says. “That sense of liveliness and color follows me in my life and work today.”