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Lady in Red: An Interview with Santa Barbara Photographer and Artist Joyce Wilson.

by Silver Webb

We're very proud to have Joyce Wilson's beautiful artwork grace the cover of Volume 10. “Paramour” and “Taboo” are two pieces from "the allure of RED," a series of photographs printed with pigment ink on handmade bark paper, enhanced with red paint and varnished. The images are evocative, mysterious, and sensual. So why red? For Joyce, the color is love, passion, power, sensuality, fear, and anger that verges on both reverence and scorn. As she points out, "Society has a love affair with women and the color Red that dates back to 3000 BC and knows no cultural boundaries." And voices the color thusly, "I live, I love, I am fearless, I am passionate, I am Red."

Walking into her house, you will find a welcoming, warm woman who speaks as much of her family as her own work. You might not guess that she's had a distinguished career as a photograph for the last fifty years, beginning in 1961, when she bought a Rollicord and enrolled in a photography class. A few years later, the renowned Adolf “Papa” Fassbender mentored her in the aesthetics of photography. After her first husband passed away in 1970, she focused on commercial work that allowed her to raise her three children.

As she says, "A thriving portrait studio left little time to pursue dreams of being an artist, but I found a way to straddle a fine line. The experiments and images for me evolved into a second career direction, and this work allowed me to become the artist I longed to be."

"Paramour" by Joyce Wilson

Of "Paramour," she says, "In the Middle Ages, a dress code was implemented by the Church as a social identifier to ensure that respectable women were not mistaken for harlots.  Color and dress became something of an advertising tool for enterprising women and were utilized to mark these women."

"Taboo" by Joyce Wilson

For "Taboo," the inspiration is the lips. "Red lips have fascinated men and women alike since 3000 BCV.  A bold 'look-at-me' color that demands attention. In the 19th century, red lipstick was considered immoral and an act of rebellion, but in the 1920’s the flapper craze made red lipstick popular and fashionable – albeit risque. Behind the mask of angelic innocence lurks a vampire soul."

Apparent within this series, and most of her work, is an ongoing theme of "celebration of the female, the exquisite beauty of nature, and the unique connection of the human form within this context." And as she describes it, "I work intuitively using the camera as a sketchbook to discover the mysteries in nature and the human experience."

Volume 10 is now available for purchase, celebrating the poetry, fiction, music, and art of Santa Barbara.

Joyce Wilson's studio in Indianapolis, IN, served as the base for portrait and commercial assignments from London to California. She is an award-winning photographer/artist, educator of the visual arts and presented lectures and workshops throughout the world. In 1996, Joyce moved to Santa Barbara, CA, and served for 16 years on the faculty of Brooks Institute.

Her images have appeared in numerous advertising campaigns for Fuji Film, Polaroid, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and covers for various photographic publications. She was presented the International Photographic Council Leadership Award at the United Nations in 2003, and Professional Photographers Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. Her fine art images are in the permanent collections of nine museums including the University of Michigan, the Crocker Museum in Sacramento, Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art in St. Joseph, MO, and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

Joyce embraced photography as an art and is continually growing and experimenting blending old-world technology with contemporary techniques. She has been able to straddle the world of commercial photography and fine art and is active in the Santa Barbara Art community sharing her wealth of knowledge.

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