When we visited Johanna Moore’s barn studio in Farmingdale along the Kennebec River, we were instantly drawn into the beehive of creativity contained in this solid, well built space. It’s a maker’s oasis of bookshelves bursting with art supplies, frames, trinkets, tools, cameras and paintings, along side tables stacked with frames and gilded pieces in various stages of completion. Johanna’s paint-splattered hoodie and strong, purposeful hands add an enticing authenticity that is at the heart of this creative workspace.
A child of craftsmen, Johanna grew up surrounded by artists and makers. “I was always encouraged to work with my hands,” she says “to observe the world with fresh vision, to experiment and to enjoy the successes as much as the failures.” After she graduated from Temple University, she worked for an art supply store where she came upon the catalog for a Renaissance frame exhibit, and her passion for the craft was born. “I’ve gone to museums my whole life and never thought to look at the frames. Having access to this book was a pivotal moment. It opened up a new world of beauty that was hidden in plain sight.”
Today, Johanna is commissioned by artists, collectors and museums to create one-of-a-kind frames that are gorgeous works of art in their own right. When designing each original piece, she considers the subject, palette, size and depth of the work she is framing. The result is a grounding and harmoniously symbiotic relationship between her unique composition and the piece of art it’s designed to showcase. “It doesn’t matter if an artist’s work is portraits of Zombies or paintings of fields of flowers, if it’s not presented professionally and in a way which draws the viewer into it, then very few people will notice it.”
Similar to her frames’ ability to elegantly anchor a piece of art, her gilded works freeze an otherwise fleeting moment in time. Using techniques dating back to medieval times, Johanna melds the art of photography and icon gilding with the practice of etching to capture the essence of a setting. “The ephemeral moment light creates in a scene is what I aim to capture in my gilded panels, as if just the right moment of light on the earth could be something worth capturing and making perpetual in a gilded panel. Like capturing light in a jar.”
The spirit of Johanna’s creative work, from her framing to her gilded compositions, offers the viewer contemplative space and time to ponder each original piece. “Elements in each image provide surface textures and optical patterns which draw the viewer’s attention and give them pause to reflect,” she says. “I’m inspired by the challenge of trying to put into solid form that which I see in my mind.” Shop Johanna Moore’s unique frames and gilded works of art here.
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