“The Desert Is My Soul Lab” The Art of Joanna Szachowska

By Katie Nartonis

“I feel it was a Higher Power intervention that brought me here, so I can deeply explore what I am made of. The desert is my ‘Soul Lab’.”
– Joanna Szachowska

Joanna Szachowska is a painter, ceramicist, illustrator, fiber-artist, and poet who has lived in the high desert for over seven years. Originally from Europe, Joanna finds her life here in Southern California has allowed her to fully come into her own and to find her true authentic self.

She notes, “I did not know myself fully before I came to the desert and lived here.” Her art practice is intuitive and has grown naturally to include many different forms of media and ways of expressing herself. She is always on a journey and perimenting with new fields and seeking different ways to express her story.

Self-taught, Szachowska began her art career in her home country of Poland, where she earned a living creating illustrations and designing book covers for local and international magazines and publishers. Joanna’s art practice has followed a creative journey from paper to canvas, ceramic stoneware to clay sculptures, from wallcoverings to collaborations with architects, and from designing public spaces to art directing creative magazines. She believes that she has been influenced at each turn by the work that came before. The artist reflects that “creation is a byproduct of my life.”

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“When I was younger, I admired other creators for creating in the same style, so they are recognizable at first glance. It fascinated me and I was trying to find the key to that door. But I never did. Each time my body of art is different, both in terms of medium, style, and color. I don’t harness intellect and
calculation into my process, I allow Spirit, the flow of energy, to create through me.”

After relocating to the Joshua Tree area, she became inspired by the vast space of the desert. Joanna believes that to be creative, “you need emptiness to meet yourself profoundly. A place where you have fewer distractions, and you can turn the frequency of inner research deeper.” The high desert is that place for many artists.

“Creating is my escape.
A place where I hide from politics,
hate, cruelty, and injustice.
I have a jar to collect my tears.
I mix them with paints.
So you can experience art deeper.
I make art out of the feelings I try to cope with.
My anxiety, my fears, my insecurity, my daydreams, and my dark memories. I mix it all.”
– Joanna Szachowska

Katie Nartonis runs JTAG (Joshua Tree Art Gallery) and is an art and design specialist, writer, curator, and filmmaker who lives in Yucca Valley. Her passion is telling the stories of California artists and is inspired by the many creatives who live here in the high desert communities. www.thenartonisproject.com

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