• Sufia Alam

Making an Ethereal Canvas in the Modern South

Joanna Edmondson, 24-year-old artist and writer, has always found her truth a little differently than others. For example, she believes the divine being is a woman.


“It makes sense,” Edmondson says, “There’s so much more beauty in the feminine figure. Whenever I’m thinking about anything being created or anything nurturing it’s always been a feminine body. She’s the grand creator. I mean, even when you cut fruit open, it looks like a vulva. It’s so obvious to me.”


Joanna Edmondson poses in her studio amongst personal treasures and her art. Photo by Kristina Balčiūnaitė

Edmondson sees the divine infinite as a sexless being but to her carries more nurturing aspects of love like a feminine figure would as compared to the fearfully loving masculine God traditionally used. She’s defines this as a Mother Nature archetype.

"Everyone believes something created this beautiful world. Everyone believes in the same truthful facts about how we should take care of one another, and about the things we should and shouldn’t do.”

Perhaps this is also why there are no male subjects in any of her artwork.

Although Edmondson grew up as a Anglican, she solidified her own beliefs when she began attending the University of Montevallo. After reading and researching about all different faiths, she reached a conclusion – all faiths would become her faith.


“I started realizing everything is the same, it really is,” Edmondson explains. “Everyone believes in loving, everyone believes [living life] in a peaceful kind manner. Everyone believes something created this beautiful world. Everyone believes in the same truthful facts about how we should take care of one another, and about the things we should and shouldn’t do.”


For Edmondson, religion and spirituality are one of the same. And now she uses this feeling to guide both how she lives her life and how she approaches her artwork.


“To me, my spirituality is based off this unsaid feeling of how I go day to day,” Edmondson says. “There is definitely a higher consciousness that I’m connected to, and it does speak to me through my artwork. It speaks to me through nature, [really] in any way. Numbers, music, in any kind of frequency that I can connect to and realize, hey, this is a message for me.”


To share her perspective, Edmondson has one goal in mind for those who observe her artwork - to make sure they them leave in a better emotional state than they arrived in.


Her method?


Edmondson provides tools of serenity and calmness to us through her paintings. She creates a passageway to nature and help ground themselves back to what mother nature has already given us.


Her paintings all embody a naturalistic hue, with rainbow overtones. For example, her under layers tend to be more of naturalistic colors with a layer of oils as the second layer (the oils being pink and red pigments along with more subtle rainbow hues.)


This creates the effect of when someone observes her paintings from far away, the paintings seem mostly consisting of earthy colors, but as you approach nearer you’ll suddenly observe an entire array of rainbow undertones.


Edmondson describes this effect as her psychedelic version of art.


With every subject in every piece being surrounded by some kind of natural element, be it outside, leaves, trees, or even bugs, it’s impossible to miss the overarching theme. Even her Instagram username is @Ethereal_Realms.


In fact, there isn’t a single detail in any of her paintings up to date hasn't been perfectly planned out. Every detail matters, has a meaning. What the flower means, what colors are used, where the subject is captured, even the bugs.


Her latest piece, which has yet to be named, (naming is the last part of her painting process) features cicada bugs. Edmondson chose this specific bug for her painting because they decide when they want to be born – which matches the main theme of her painting.


"People can barely look at each other in the eye anymore. We’ve completely become so “thing” oriented, but we don’t appreciate walking outside and seeing what’s being created out of nothing."

Why the obsession with nature? Because we so desperately need to be reminded about the beauty and significance of it.


Edmondson draws her conclusions partially from the term - nature deficit order.


Although not a true medical diagnosis, this refers to the idea that human beings are spending less and less time outdoors, leading to an array of consequences from behavioral problems in children to leading addictions to electronics.


“We’ve gotten so lost,” Edmonson says. “People can barely look at each other in the eye anymore. We’ve completely become so “thing” oriented, but we don’t appreciate walking outside and seeing what’s being created out of nothing."



Because of our lost focus, we can no longer appreciate the nurturing rain drops of the sky, the fresh grass fragrance after the lawn has been mowed or the color and texture of bark from trees – all because we see these miracles every day.


According to Edmondson, when you’re so used to having little marvels around you every day, you slowly lose the ability to truly appreciate them.


While many have strayed away from nature, for Edmondson, it’s always been her first reality.

“Funny story, when I was younger I was at the beach and I was picking up grains of sand and little periwinkle seashells,” Edmonson shared while laughing. “I was whispering to them and talking to them. My aunt happened to see me and told my mom ‘that girl is going to be crazy.’”


While adapting nature themes, Edmonson also keeps another strategy in mind while pursuing her goal of making her audience happy with her paintings – to break away from contemporary art.


She wants to break away from the art that tries to convey stress, anxiety and darkness.

Instead, she wishes to bring light.



Do you know someone who inspires you? Is there an artist, writer, or musician that enlightens people around them? Email us at camellias.bham@gmail.com or comment below and we’ll check them out!


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