Charlotte artist Joanna Zamora shares the vulnerability behind her work
By Emerson Hardy
“I have always been inspired by all of the great art movements throughout history and I feel like I’ve just absorbed bits and pieces of all of it.”
Joanna Zamora is a Charlotte-based artist who describes her own work process as “a meltdown.” She draws influence from her own personal life, as well as the eclectic art she was exposed to while studying at UNCC. Today, Joanna shares her creations primarily via Instagram and through local arts organizations like Goodyear. Locally, her work has also been shown at Petra’s, C3 Labs, Vapa Center, and many others.
Through a combination of painting, drawing and slice-of-life photography, Joanna Zamora crafts small, expressionist glimpses of emotions, ideas and everyday experiences. Her style is unique, provocative, and all her own. Here, she opens up about how her education, childhood, and mental health have impacted her artistic craft.
How often are you creating art? Do you consider it to be a full time pursuit?
I try to create art as often as I can when I’m not working, of course. I would consider art my lifelong, full-time pursuit.
Did your education at UNC Charlotte impact your art?
Absolutely. I learned a lot about use of materials and conceptual work at UNC Charlotte. My professors encouraged me to experiment with different materials and push the boundaries of my illustration and my paintings. They were empowering me to figure out how to tell stories through imagery, rather than the use of words.
Some of your art contains references to classic literature. Would you say that literature impacts your art in a significant way?
I’ve always been an avid reader. I’m not a great writer myself, but I always got a lot of inspiration from literature, comics, and art history textbooks.
You seem very fond of teeth-related imagery. What’s the story behind that?
Trauma. I spent a lot of my childhood at the dentist watching my mother get multiple dental procedures. From a very young age she drilled into me that I have to take care of my teeth – brush, floss, and mouthwash at least twice a day, or risk my teeth rotting out of my skull like hers did.
Would you call your art modern, postmodern, or something else?
I’m not so sure what I would call my art, to be honest I have always been inspired by all of the great art movements throughout history and I feel like I’ve just absorbed bits and pieces of all of it.
How, if at all, was your art influenced by the pandemic? More specifically its impact on mental health?
The pandemic has affected my mental health in a big way, as it did for a lot of folks I’m sure. It seemed to be a steady stream of “my life is falling apart very slowly and everyone around me is dying” for the past couple of years. I am still recovering and trying to get back into new work. The crippling depression and isolation made it really difficult for me to get back to creating. It seemed like I had nothing to talk about for a while, so what was there for me to draw about? Eventually, I was motivated to create relatable comics and images of everyday life.
Where do you find inspiration? What kind of art do you enjoy as a consumer?
I find most of my inspiration from my own life experiences. That is the type of art I enjoy consuming, work that is easy to relate to and absorb. Although, I still love the classics. I enjoy all of it. I just love seeing what others create and what is possible, especially if it’s a medium I’m not very good at or have yet to experiment with.
Joanna’s work is indeed highly personal and all her own, yet still captures the spirit of the times in a way we can all appreciate. Not to mention, her contributions serve as a colorful and stirring layer in Charlotte’s always evolving art scene.