Joan Jonas was born in 1936 in New York. She received a B.A. in Art History from Mount Holyoke College in 1958, studied sculpture at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and received an M.F.A. in Sculpture from Columbia University in 1965.
A pioneer of video and performance art, Jonas belongs to a group of artists whose use of live action and video beginning in the late 1960s and early 1970s gave rise to contemporary genres of video and performance art, which are embraced by younger generations of artists. From her seminal performance-based excercises of the 1970s to her later televisual narratives, Jonas engages viewers in an elusive theatrical portrayal of female identity. Employing an idiosyncratic vocabulary of ritualized gesture and symbolic objects that include masks, mirrors, and costuming, she explores the self and the body through layers of meaning.
Vertical Roll, 1972
Read about Joan Jonas being selected to represent the US in the Venice Biennale: New York Times