Joelle Circé’s Artistic Journey
This is a phone interview I had with Luna Allison for Xtra.ca magazine online about my art and my Solo show at Venus Envy Ottawa.
Joelle Circé’s artistic journey
ON DISPLAY / Painter went from Scientology to kink and BDSM-themed art
Joelle Circé has been experiencing an artistic and personal awakening.
As a lesbian of transexual origin, Circé’s physical transition has also led to a profound emotional shift. She started to experience a new level of wonder and fascination with women’s bodies, and her growing personal experience with misogyny and oppression transformed her art into decidedly queer work.
“I had stopped [painting] for about ten years before my transition,” says Circé. “Before that, I was doing landscapes, still lifes and portraits for a living. It wasn’t satisfying enough. I dropped it all, walked away from it and joined Scientology for 14 years.”
But when Circé came out as a woman to her fellow Scientologists in Los Angeles, she says it did not go over well. She decided to move back to Canada and make space in her life to fully become herself.
This month at Venus Envy, locals get a chance to see what she’s been working on throughout this transformative period.
Her body of work began with a series of vaginal portraits she started painting 12 years ago.
“They were the first paintings I did after my transition,” says Circé. “Some of them are erotic — BDSM and fetish — and others are more feminist, addressing body issues and misogyny.”
From there, Circé moved on to a series of portraits with queer and kink themes — capturing rope play, eroticism, dildos and harnesses, moments of personal and sexual liberation, as well as images of the queer and gaymous, like Montreal’s Nat King Pole and New York’s Con Artist.
These last two portraits are currently on loan to the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York, along with an image of transsexual crucifixion, called Damned, which was accepted into the permanent collection there four months ago.
“I was in at the reception for an all women’s art show, called Estrogenius, in New York,” says Circé. “The curator said, ‘Come over here. I want to introduce you to someone.’ Very unexpected. That’s how it came about.”
This month’s show, The Art of Joelle Circé, features samples of the Circé’s edgiest work, which is right at home amongst the dildos, vibrators, floggers, rope and books of erotica permanently on offer at Venus Envy.
The Art of Joelle Circé
320 Lisgar St