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  • Jodi Panas (bio)

The boundaries of structures, the internal and its relationship to the external, and the impact of one object on another have been ongoing concerns of my work. How does an object maintain its integrity as it becomes part of a system of two or more objects? Object definition can be rigid, flexible, or lost depending on the effect of other objects and the particularity of their surroundings. Strengths and flaws become exposed in this dynamic; the inside is now outside, the subjective is more objective and intersubjective.

I have always been fascinated by the interior of an object. My particular source of interest has been the human body as a physical object and container of psychological space. My drawing is an attempt to explore what I cannot see, to give shape to feelings, sensations, and perceptions. The skeletal system has been my primary source for physicalness. I am awestruck by the beauty, grace, and sensuality of these separate pieces of bone that together support a whole body. Whether the bones and skeletons depicted in my work are physiologically accurate or abstracted, the goal is always the same: to create a whole, integrated structure of an internal psychology of feeling. I am interested in how emotional states are communicated by the body. Is there a flow of effortless movement or dissonance? Emotional states are often verbally denied yet communicated or revealed through the body. Emotional states can resonate throughout the body without being self-possessed. The drawings are like snapshot millisecond expressions of emotional experience. For me they serve as icons of psychological ideation that are meant to be funny or absurd or heartbreaking. I use the body as a container that holds emotional states. I am interested in how that container is impacted by the effect of others and the intersection of these combined energies.

Drawing is the purest, most immediate way to express my thoughts and feelings. The experience of a sharp pencil being pulled across the surface, again and again, to create layers of lines is both physically and mentally exciting. This "crosshatching" process is meditative. It becomes a vital and regenerative thinking process. For me each drawing, each piece of paper, develops as a complex relationship. I cannot leave a drawing unfinished. Each "relationship" must be resolved. My process includes a physical rhythm of pencil to paper: an engagement of connection, release, longing for connection, and reconnection. This coincides with an ongoing reciprocal exchange from conscious to unconscious. For ten years I managed a home for a group of people that had schizophrenia and/or bipolar disorder. I was then mental health director at a shelter for homeless chronically mentally ill people in New York City. I am presently in private practice as a psychoanalyst and psychotherapist. My work in mental health continues to inform my drawing and the drawings inform my professional work. [End Page 128]

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Jodi Panas
Pencil on paper, 40 × 26 in.

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Jodi Panas




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pp. 128-129
Launched on MUSE
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