PROVENANCE: Courtesy of the Artist
This quasi USPS stamp is a symbol for the 2020 American plague of COVID-19 escalated by the failed Federal response pictured by Amerikkka, Anti mask, Anti Vax syringed threats to the body politic of democracy and public health. This postage stamp self portrait is inspired by art historical paintings of St. Sebastian, believed to be a defense against the medieval plague. This is a mixed message image of painful arrow-like injections in a prayer for protection from encroaching fascism and aggressive dangerous ignorance while holding a vaccine bottle in hopes of the antidote to the virulent virus and perilous times.
Johanna Poethig (born 1956) is an Oakland based visual, public and performance artist whose work includes murals, paintings, sculpture and multimedia installations. She has split her practice between public art, gallery and performance that mix idealism, satire, feminism and cultural critique. She grew up in the Philippines and has participated in Filipino-American artist collectives and Philippines based arts projects since the 1980’s. Her wide-ranging gallery and performance art investigates issues involving colonization, identity and glamour, consumerism and technology. In both public art/social practice and gallery/performance art, Poethig draws on her cross-cultural experience and social consciousness to create inclusive work offering an alternative to dominant advertising messages and American conventions of individualism and competition. In recent work Poethig explores the innate search for the mystical in a culture of media overload, mathematical patterns in nature’s terrestrial and extraterrestrial life systems, alternative natural histories and futurist storytelling through spinning wheels of fortune, divination cards, sculpture, costumes and original texts.
Poethig has been commissioned to create public art projects throughout the Bay Area and California, and in Chicago, Milwaukee, Washington State, New York State, Cuba and Tbilisi, Georgia. She is lead artist for the recently unveiled $1.5 million public art project, 9 mile poem / neighborhood iconography metal work integrated into the architecture of 34 stations for East Bay’s AC Transit Bus Rapid Transit. She has exhibited internationally, and at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (SF), SF Asian Art Museum Space Bi project and Boston Center for the Arts. She is Professor Emerita at the Visual and Public Art Department, California State University, Monterey Bay.