Joy Broom is an Entomophile (lover of insects); a Retrophile (lover of old things); and a Graphophile (lover of script), among other passions. She collects and arranges her loves into boxes and mixed-media paintings, inspired by shrines and altarpieces she’s seen in Mexico and Europe. Her materials include personal mementos like family photos and letters plus scientific curiosities such as preserved insects, bones, and plant specimens.
Bay Area Curator Ann Trinca visited Joy’s studio in Martinez, CA and has selected a number of works to display at Chateau Sonoma for the month of March. “Joy’s pieces are lusciously layered”, states Trinca, “Each work holds a narrative about the origins of life and family ties. It’s like falling through a rabbit-hole.”
In many cases, Joy will cut up, fold, paint over and embalm original photographs and letters. In this act she imbues her art with the character and energy of her ancestors. She relishes the act of giving these things new life and sees it as a way to honor the past.
Joy has always loved insects and has been incorporating them into her work for nearly 30 years. The intricate detail of a bumblebee wing, or the pattern on a beetle’s back is copied in the lines of her pencil drawings and covered in beeswax for a mysterious texture. Broom combines history and science as though building chains of DNA. Her paintings and assemblages are more than just pieces in her studio – they are the literal fingerprints of her creativity.
Joy lives in an art-filled home in Martinez with her husband Jerry Leisure. Both Broom and Leisure taught art at Diablo Valley College and have work in the di Rosa collection. Joy was an artist in residence at the De Young Museum and has exhibited work at SFMOMA Artists Gallery, the Triton Museum, the Berkeley Art Center, the Bedford Gallery, and most recently at Roll Up Project. She has interviewed by Elise Morris for The Studio Work blog in 2015.