J. L. Giovanna Hesley enjoys a teaching career in Tucson, AZ. where she currently teaches engineering to first, second and third grade students. Prior to this she was a children’s counselor utilizing the practice of art therapy to understand her clients better. Giovanna holds several degrees including a BFA in Fiber Arts, a Masters of Education K-8 and a Masters of Science in Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering. Having also studied Greek and Roman mythology extensively, she incorporates many characters and symbols to create allegorical meaning in her paintings. She works in many mediums including oil, watercolor, charcoal and the fabric arts. During the summer months, she still does private consulting for agriculture and landscape design projects.
“I work with children. They inspire me and give me hope. They create solutions and bring joy to everyday experiences. Some things can be difficult for children to discuss so I put them into a fictional space and time. We can step back and look at it from a distance yet understand that it is present. Other topics are best illustrated with the wonder and joy that children bring to make good things even better.
I use ancient tales and mythology to express universal experiences and more global issues. My work may deal with complex and difficult themes but it shows them in a light, colorful, and beautiful manner. Influenced by my interactions with young students, I use bright, bold colors and elements of whimsy. Simplified illustration can convey very deep meaning.
My series of four birds on wallpaper were inspired by a large painting illustrating an old Greek story of betrayal and transformation. The main painting of Philomela Holding Her Tongue shows the importance of the right time to speak out and when to remain quiet.
Each of the birds represents a character in the story. Tereus, the king of Thrace is a hoopoe; his bride Procne, is the sparrow; Philomela, princess of Athens is her sister, and is represented as a nightingale as well as the main subject in the white gown; and the son is a roadrunner (the pheasant of Arizona). Some of the birds are expressed as decoration on the wallpaper while others are escaping the cage. One sparrow is dead on the ground to remember those of us who do not make it through the hard times. There is a beautiful blue bird of happiness that is in full joyful flight to help us remember the lessons of the children.
The four main characters are painted separately on board as stylized, wallpaper birds. I use additive and subtractive techniques in oil to build texture and depth. The use of portraiture from another era is to express strict cultural limitations and the consequences of breaking with the rigid guidelines of society.”