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Somerville Artist Joanne Simon Explores Immigration and Climate Change

Her colorful prints were recently shown at Boston's Chase Young Gallery.


Mariposa Morada, monotype, intaglio print with chine-collé on paper, $725, joannesimonart.com. / Courtesy photo

Joanne Simon was just 15 years old when she began making politically driven artwork, a passion that’s carried her through her career—and across the world. England-born, the printmaker studied at Wimbledon School of Art in London before moving to Israel to attend the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem. Now, having lived in Massachusetts for more than 20 years, Simon’s inspiration has only been strengthened by her travels. “I’m able to bring an outsider’s eye to American life,” she explains. “What motivates me to create work is what we have in common, wherever we live.”

Joanne Simon

Mariposas Enredadas, monotype, intaglio print with chine-collé on paper, $725, joannesimonart.com. / Courtesy photo

This concept of shared experience is the guiding force behind the Somerville-based artist’s latest print series, “Butterflies,” which uses depictions of the winged insects to comment on global issues. Recently shown at Boston’s Chase Young Gallery, the works examine the effects of climate change (which threatens butterflies in particular) and the crisis at the border (which butterflies can fly over freely). “We’re all going to be impacted by those [things], whether we’re butterflies or human beings,” Simon says.

Through a medley of printmaking and collaging techniques, Simon gives flight to vibrantly colored, layered works that reflect her twofold muse. “Even though butterflies appear fragile, they’re resilient and enduring creatures,” she explains. “I hope that, like butterflies, we can find a way to work toward change for our future and the next generations.”

Joanne Simon

Mariposas Desplazadas, monotype, intaglio print white chine-collé on paper, $725, joannesimonart.com. / Courtesy photo