Joan Baldwin: Cocoons



It needs to be quiet for the human cocoons to have the time to develop properly. The atmosphere must be warm and supportive. As these pupas become more mature they gain color and move closer to the bassinet, where they’ll each get time to adjust to being unwrapped and exposed, yet still nurtured. For all living creatures there’s magic in the process of birth.

– Joan Baldwin: Cocoons

In a recent conversation with Joan Baldwin, I talked with her about the installation Cocoons, currently in the Center Gallery, a departure from the paintings for which she is known. Below are some thoughts from our observation of the installation.

She sees everything as connected, as part of nature. She makes a leap with this installation by “cross pollinating” the idea of human birth and that of a cocoon, fusing two species. This is a place of quiet, and like the process of human birth, the “babies” here need to adjust to being in the world.

The installation creates an atmosphere of safety and nurturing, of stillness; a time she imagines that the cocoons need to develop, a magical and perhaps a sacred space. The installation is designed sequentially so that as the eye travels towards the bassinet, reading the space, the colors becoming brighter and the shapes larger. They are beautiful and repelling at the same time.

The ideas expressed here developed as the she worked on the piece; the objects she collected became the impetus for the work and this continued until the installation itself was created.

There are of course many connotations invoked here and the artist wants it to be open-ended. One could see a sleeping infant or a dead baby. It is strange to see babies hung upside down and wrapped. However as with all works of art, the viewer has the opportunity to project oneself on to the work and to suspend disbelief if only for a moment.

The exhibit runs through June 1 with a closing reception from 3-5 p.m.

Images: Joan Baldwin, Cocoons, installation view and detail, 2014.







  1. Diane Elliott says:

    Hi Joan – I think your installation provokes a lot of thought as to why there is a separation among the pods and the baby in the bassinet. Find a way to join the two together by some kind of umbilical cord and wake the babies up that are getting closer to being born! This is my vision.

  2. Diane Elliott says:

    You are a remarkable artist and I am so honored to have seen your show. You have mastered the art of true expression, meaning you are consistent in your choice of color, subject, meaning and a continuing theme.. I know that is the hardest thing to accomplish as a true artist. You have made a signature for yourself from your true talents!

    I am very proud of you.

    I have so much talent and have done so much work myself but supplies are so expensive I just literally gave up as I just don’t have the resources to continue my art as I have a son who is brilliant and graduated from Harvard that has major mental health issues who is now compliant on monthly Haldol shots. We have both been through hell in the past 5 years or so, but are now very happy and living in peace and spending a lot of quality time together on my daily dog walks as a dog walker and pet sitter.

    He has a lot more artistic talent than I do but he isn’t interested. I think he just gets to get connected to the right artists. What do you think?

    Thanks Joan and I send you my best~

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