5 Questions with Joanne Northrup

5 Questions with Joanne Northrup

We caught up with Nevada Museum of Art’s JoAnne Northrup last week as she lead a tour through the current Georgia O’Keeffe’s incredible Living Modern exhibition for this year’s Teen Open Studios students. She had just flown in from a trip to the Venice Biennale and we asked her a few questions about her experience and the artists/work that made an impact. Check it out!



We heard you just got back from the Venice Biennale – can you tell us about the experience and paint the picture for us a bit? What is the Biennale, who shows, how does it work, etc? 

The Venice Biennale is the oldest international contemporary art exhibition in the world. It started in 1895 and happens every other year (2017, 2019, 2021). There are two components of the show, which is spread all over the city of Venice, Italy: one, there’s a curated portion of the exhibition—this year it was curated by Ralph Rugoff, and it was titled May You Live in Interesting Times. The second component are the national pavilions. Every country that has the resources has a national pavilion where they show the work of an artists from their country that represents the best work of the time. Sometimes they use the pavilions to make a political statement. There are a total of 35 national pavilions. The best one was Ghana.


Who were the artists or what was the work that really spoke to you this time around?

Lithuanian Pavilion, Sun and Sea. It features an artificial beach and the people on the beach perform an opera about climate change. 

Lawrence Abu Hamdam Walled/Unwalled, 2018 video installation. It’s still haunting me…about the police state, violence and torture–taking an oblique perspective that was incredibly effective.

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, VR installation in the Arsenale, Endodrome. Only 5 people at a time could see it. It’s one of the best explorations of VR as an art medium that I’ve seen. 

Shilpa Gupta installation in the Arsenale, For, In Your Tongue, I Cannot Fit, 2017-18. Sound installation with poetry by political prisoners over time. I was mesmerized.


You mentioned there are sometimes overall themes or threads that come into play unintentionally – what did you notice this year in terms of common themes or threads or discussions?

This year’s Biennale was filled with artwork by women artists, LGBTQ artists, artists of color. It felt really balanced in that way, which is refreshing—it doesn’t always happen that way! The subject matter was really dark in the portion curated by Ralph Rugoff, but that’s the time that we live in—politically the world is a mess and the art reflects that back to us.


What’s something you hope to bring to Reno from your experience? An idea, an artist? What seeds were planted?

I am crazy about the work of Martine Guttierez, a trans Latinx woman of Indigenous decent. Her work is super edgy. She’s amazing. 

[Ed. Note! Her own website is HERE and she’s on Instagram at @martine.tv. She is currently participating in IFC’s Queer|Art|Film series Chicas y Fantasmas with 4 film presentations that “explore the shells we inhabit to move through the world.” Also, check out these links to learn more about her 148-page self-published fashion zine – Indigenous Woman , her practice, her ever-evolving self-image, her incredible portrait work, and more – Art21,  Interview and Vice!]


Now that you’re back home, what are you excited about in the next few months (either at the museum or in the world) that you’d like to share with us??

I’m excited about Las Vegas artist Justin Favela’s upcoming show in Carson City at the Courthouse Gallery. It’s called Saludos Amigos and it opens October 4. His piñata style work is great and I love him and believe in his art.