Q+Art: Elyse’ Jokinen Shatters Gendered Expectations with Hyper-Feminine Collages
Collage artist Elyse’ Jokinen gets by on intuition. Over the past decade, Jokinen has schlepped her art supplies from one place to another, stopping in no less than seven cities along the way. Now settled in Minneapolis, Jokinen is building a collage portfolio imbued with the same bohemian spirit and defiant independence that fill her life.
Using found papers, book pages, and magazine clippings, Jokinen assembles her bright collages with a perceptive spontaneity. She chooses traditionally feminine images—lush flowers, ripe fruit, and soft colors—to create works that boast a playful impudence. Vintage cutouts of women in headscarves with finger-waved hair conjure a dreamy, if regressive time period. “Society puts a lot of pressure on women to be a certain way,” writes Jokinen in her artist statement. Her work aims “to shatter those expectations” by embracing the magic of femininity with a knowing wink.
Jokinen’s belief in magic brings a welcome sense of wonder often lost in more cynical spheres of art. Recently, her open-hearted approach has led to the creation of Wilder Collage, a platform that shares collage and mixed media work from contemporary artists. When posting, Jokinen chooses artists that share her love of found imagery, altered photos, and sticky fingers. Each interview reads as a love note to a fellow member of the collage club—an unofficial yet notoriously clannish subgroup of artists.
Still, Jokinen allows other forms of magic to seep into her day-to-day life. “Discovering my love for art has been incredibly fulfilling, second only to building my little family,” she writes on her website. Jokinen’s work benefits from a life well lived, divorced from proverbial ivory towers and uppity high horses. Her fully present works act like a lighthouse, casting aside the gloom and pulling sinking spirits in with a powerful beam of light.
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From Cult To Comedy, A Memoir, by Katie Love
The year is 1970. The horror soap opera “Dark Shadows” is all the rage, the Vietnam War is raging and nine-year-old Katie, an imaginative and independent latch-key kid, comes home from school to discover her mother’s suicide.
Taken in by her older sister who has recently become a Jehovah’s Witness, Katie is shown an illustration from a bible picture book featuring wild animals peacefully lounging by a pool of water, surrounded by happy people picking fruit. An enticing offer is made: “Katie, this is Paradise. Do you want to see Mom again, happy and living forever? All you have to do is follow all of Jehovah’s commandments and you can be with Mom again.”
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So begins Katie’s zealous quest to attain perfection and entrance into a utopian world which promises peace, love, and happiness. She discovers a much darker world. “Two Tickets to Paradise, from Cult to Comedy” tells the hilarious and heartbreaking story of an earnest, bible-toting kid intent on saving the world, and follows her metamorphosis into a boisterous comedian intent on saving herself through the healing powers of humor.
In Today’s Q+Art Interview…
Elyse’ Jokinen discusses pushing past imposter syndrome, sharing work from other artists, and starting an arts career without a formal education.
Which books, art-related or otherwise, belong on every artist’s shelf?
Elyse’ Jokinen: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney.
If you could have dinner with any artist, living or dead, who would it be?
EJ: I just finished rewatching "Wonder," a video created by FOAM. It was a day in the life of photographer Jessica Backhaus. I would love to go overseas for dinner with her and then maybe even go for a walk with our cameras!
What are you trying to express with your art?
EJ: Collage has always felt like magic to me. My work reminds us that there’s beauty in who you are, no matter what you’re told to be. It represents freedom, femininity, equality, and yes, a bit of magic.
Would you work for free in exchange for exposure?
EJ: I've done it before and I'd do it again! As long as it feels mutually beneficial and FUN, hell yes, I would.
What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
EJ: Chocolate all day, cruising social media, singing loudly in my car, and old rom-coms.
What do you consider your greatest artistic achievement?
EJ: Honestly, it would be continuing to create when I have a million excuses not to. Trying new things, learning always and pushing past the imposter syndrome to just make the work.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
EJ: If you don't ask, the answer's always no.
Is a formal arts education worth the money?
EJ: I didn't have a formal arts education. I do, however, think it's entirely necessary to always be learning. There are so many ways to do so these days—we're lucky!
What is one thing you would like to change about the art world?
EJ: Equality—in every way shape and form.
Would you rather be a historically significant or commercially successful artist?
EJ: Gosh, this is a tough one. I always stumble on the legacy questions. Being historically significant doesn't resonate with me, so I would have to say commercially successful.
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your practice?
EJ: Being home has definitely given me more time to work on my art, I'm grateful for that. The pandemic has also propelled me into the artist community online that I'm not sure would have happened otherwise. I've also had virtual opportunities that were solely because of the pandemic.
What are you working on that you’re excited about right now?
EJ: I recently launched Wilder Collage, and I'm over the moon about it. I've been connecting with collage artists all over the world as well as sharing their work and their stories.
Elyse’ Jokinen: Website | Instagram | Twitter
Wilder Collage: Website | Instagram
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. All photos published with permission of the artist.
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