by Joyce McCown of MoonShadow Press | Sept-Oct 2017

Artist Statement:


This body of work began as an extension of the Thought Cloud concept, except that it includes the darker aspects. “Thought Clouds” are a visualization of the ever growing tumbling mass of thoughts, information, and feelings that exist in our minds. In the past I’ve only focused on the positive elements of these “Thought Clouds,” such as creativity, imagination, and brainstorming. INTENSITIES expands the breadth of the “Thought Cloud” to include the realities of anxiety, fear, and depression within our minds and hearts. Throughout all the work included in this show you will find the extremes of both ends of the emotional spectrum, positive and negative, light and dark, uplifting and heavy.

The New Hand Embroidered Photographs: 

The photographs in my new series of stitched photos were taken by fellow artist and friend, Karly Nelson, as I wanted to be in the photos myself! We worked together to create a sense of movement within the images to accompany the extreme emotions illustrated by the embroidered drawings. The photographs with colored thread are about strong positive emotions, while the ones with black thread are about strong negative ones. This series is still a work in progress! I have planned out 14 pieces, of which only 5 are here in the show. Three of them are even incomplete, however, I still included them to because this show is about the many things in life that are in a constant state of evolution and change, and that we rarely ever declare “completed.”

Grief is an Ivy

This pair of images is the outcome of a year and a half of processing grief. I wrote the phrase poem, “grief is an ivy,” after experiencing several tragic family deaths in a row. For a while I didn’t know how to explain what my sorrow felt or looked like, and this phrase was my first successful attempt. I knew I wanted to create artwork to accompany the words, but it took another year for all the pieces to come together. However, one day in studio the idea for the final images came to me all at once, and within thirty minutes they were finished. The figural image is from the same batch of photographs that Karly Nelson took of me for my embroidered photo work. The ivy image I found online, turned black and white, and then overlaid on top of the photo Karly took.


The Scarf, Photographs, and Book in this series of work were created for my senior thesis, Creatures of Habit, in 2013-2014. My thesis as a whole is about repetition and patterns. Entangle/Untangle specifically focuses on how a good habit can lose it’s functionality and become a trap when too much pressure or importance is placed on it. 

To illustrate this idea I crocheted a single scarf for seven months straight. Each color yarn represents one of five common places I spent my time: my art studio, my boyfriend/fiancé/husband’s apartment, church, my parent’s house, and my parent’s office. You can follow the growth of the scarf in the photographs on the wall, as well as see the completed, rolled scarf. As you may guess, a 79th scarf is not useful, practical, or particularly enjoyable to wear. and flip through the accordion style pages of the book that documents the scarf.

The book version of the scarf is how I reclaimed, or “untangled” the ridiculous mess of the original, scarf. Made in an accordion style at a 1:1 ratio, the book version of the scarf is easily portable and accessible where the original is heavy, awkward and uncomfortable. 


The act of hand lettering itself has been an important way I’ve fought through my depression over the last few years. It is also one of my favorite ways to combine my love for writing and words with my love for visual art and photography. All the photographs used in my hand lettering pieces I have taken myself, and with my iPhone at that! Many of the words I chose to letter and define are unusual, but overflowing with rich and intense meanings. Enjoy!