Artist Jo Ellen Van Ouwerkerk’s timeless icons evoke an age long ago. The women she paints are composites of people she knew personally, had once seen, or had read about. She uses her figures in provocative and dramatic poses. Her characters are seen for a single frame of their story and her vision broadens that which is considered normal. Van Ouwerkerk’s characters offer direct eye contact with their viewer to compel an interaction. Woodward Gallery presents the Ritual exhibition and simultaneous release of signed, vintage, limited edition prints after Van Ouwerkerk’s original paintings. This series is offered in small quantities, using Iris printing with archival ink on 100% Somerset Rag paper.
Van Ouwerkerk offers context, "Rituals are sacred and completely personal. Choreographed movements, clothing (costumes), music, scent are accessories to your essence. Rituals are a prayer honoring the best of your soul."
There is a sensual, mystical quality to her work. She reimagines early 19th century Pre- Raphaelites and carries them into the contemporary image. It is as if her women travel through time agelessly. People universally respond to Jo Ellen’s work through the subject’s eye contact. The gorgeous flow of their bodies further beckons one to join their ritual. She provokes the viewer to engage in the activity. When viewing her sirens, one follows marvelously entranced in their personal and curious situations.
Jo Ellen Van Ouwerkerk does not reveal the meaning of the situation she produces, though the Artist claims that because she is painting women, "you make your own stories that have to do with your own psyche." Enter the ritual and intermingle in her world.