Meet Joan Raspo

Joan Raspo is a California based multimedia artist. A Jill-of-all-creative-trades, Joan paints, codes, sculpts and also directs films.

By Lisa Salerno

Joan is obsessed with illusions. She strives to “trick the viewer’s eye to see reality through a lens of magic”. She sees her art as entertainment. According to Joan, each work is “an opportunity to build drama and tension which invites interaction with (her) audience”. If the goal of Joan’s practice is to include the viewer, she has far exceeded this goal in her latest piece, ASK.ME, which was recently shown at ODETTA Gallery in Brooklyn, NY (as part of a city-ide art initiative called Creative Tech Week).


ASK.ME is an interactive installation of a life-size magic 8 Ball. It houses a touch activated perceptual hologram that senses a viewer’s presence and produces an answer that hovers inside an inverted plexiglass pyramid. When the viewer enters the dome, they will be greeted with the message “ASK.ME.” Visitors have the opportunity to ask the 8 Ball questions resulting in three-dimensional holographic answers.

The holographic “answers”, which reflect the lexicon of current slang (particularly words, acronyms, and symbols that have evolved through social media and the web), will reflect off the mirrors lining the inside of the dome. According to Joan, “Light and space will skew to divulge a deeper strangeness. This unique take on holograms, fortune telling and divine spaces addresses our human need to foresee the future”.

Although Joan works with such a wide range of media, she considers herself primarily a painter. Joan’s painting style also defies genre, however many of her abstracts seem to depict impressions of landscapes, both real and imagined. Her work is an intuitive yet thoughtful combination of color, texture, and materials. The most notable and appealing aspect of her paintings, however, is their extreme texture and tactile nature.

Each painting has a childlike quality, as though they were initially guided by impulse. Joan grants each piece added complexity and sophistication as she edits and adds her final touches at the end. Here is where she “formalizes the coincidental and emphasizes the conscious process of composition”.

Joan is a risk taker. Her work is driven by her playful exploration of techniques and materials. Some of the media she works with include C-Prints, oil and acrylic paint, gesso, and collage materials, to name a few. The inspiration for each new piece is often inspired by leftover materials she may have from her last.

By using extra paint or physical elements from one piece as the foundation for the next, Joan creates a cohesive body of work. The recycling of materials seems to contribute to her wide range of style and her constant evolution as an artist.

Joan’s painting “Earth”, for example, is a piece that she made using a remnant of plexiglass from when she was constructing her ASK.ME installation piece.


According to Joan, the best description for “Earth” can be derived from her artist statement: “By focusing on techniques and materials, Joan formalizes the coincidental and emphasizes the conscious process of composition behind her deeply textured work.”

Joan is a graduate of the MFA program at UC Santa Cruz in Digital Arts and New Media. Prior to that she lived in New York City, carving out a career in commercial directing and teaching.

Connect with Joan Raspo

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