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Joanna’s friends bared their souls for her art

Artist Joanna Stapff doesn’t think you can fully appreciate someone until you’ve seen them naked.

Her debut exhibition Bloß, Bloom & Bliss opens at the Bermuda Society of Arts (BSOA) at City Hall today, and is mostly comprised of nudes.

“I chose nudes because it is something I enjoy painting,” she said. “I was tired of seeing the typical Bermuda scene, although I do have some large seascapes in the show. I wanted to see something new. I lived in Miami where there was a rich art scene. It was the norm to see different sorts of art, but in Bermuda, things are a bit more restricted.”

Bloß, pronounced ‘bloss’ is a German word that means naked or bare. She chose it because the show is meant to be not just a bold, and vivid, showcase of female nude paintings, but also a public baring of her own inner soul, passion and creativity.

She studied graphic design and fine arts at the University of Miami. The word Bloom is a reference to age, and that she, and her subjects, are in their thirties, a pivotal stage in life.

“I have put some of my pieces in BSOA before, but never had a solo show,” she said. “I have always wanted to. I am 31, so I thought, this is the year I am finally going to do it.”

The word Bliss was selected to represent that from the ability to bloom, one can find their happiness.

“Myself, and my subjects, share our own individual skills with others in so many ways, which aids in their conquest for bliss,” said Ms Stapff.

She said it was not challenging to get her subjects to pose, because many of them are her friends. She took photographs, and then painted to avoid lengthy sitting sessions.

“Some were a bit hesitant at first,” she said. “I had it at my home, and had nibbles, and champagne, and that relaxed them. None of the poses are provocative. Maybe one is slightly sensual.

“Some of the models brought something that reflected their personalities. For example, one subject is a banker, and DJs as well. She brought some records to be included in the painting.”

Each of the subjects in the exhibition holds a connection to Bermuda, either by being born on the Island, or now being resident here as an expatriate.

A Bermudian herself, Ms Stapff wanted to use her first show to explore the unique qualities, and value, that individuals bring to Bermuda, regardless of their nationality. And to narrow the often perceived gap between locals, and expats.

“There is a lot of division in our community and I wanted to use this show to promote unity and appreciation of others,” she said. “I am Bermudian and proud to count both Bermudians, and expats, among my close friends.

“I know some wonderful people who all contribute so much to life in Bermuda. The idea behind the show was that I select some of these great women to model nude for me, and lay bare who they are, their inspiring energy and what they stand for. It is also a celebration of diversity as these women are from all walks of life and backgrounds — they include a banker, an entrepreneur, a vet, and a teacher.”

She is hosting a public opening reception at the gallery from 5pm until 7pm when DJ Chelsea will hit up the turntables to heighten this artistic experience. Goslings has created a signature cocktail for the occasion to embody the theme. Bloß, Bloom & Bliss runs until June 30.

Artist Joanna Stapff who is opening her debut exhibition of nudes. (Photo by Akil Simmons)

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Published June 07, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated June 06, 2013 at 5:44 pm)

Joanna’s friends bared their souls for her art

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