Issue 11 Cover Art: The Mandarin Fox by Joan Desmond

This issue's cover, Mandarin Fox, comes to us from Joan Desmond, an artist living in California’s Kern River Valley. We are delighted to work with Desmond, whose artist’s notes follow.

I created Mandarin Fox as a collage, which in art production is a technique of assembling various forms and creating a new whole. The term comes from the French word coller, “to stick down, or to paste.” Although the collage approach actually goes back hundreds of years, Pablo Picasso and George Braque were the first artists in the early 20th century to liberally incorporate just about anything that could be glued down into their creations: photographs; magazine and newspaper clippings; all types of found papers; ribbons; fabric; anything. They also came up with the term “collage.”

Mandarin Fox was conceived as part of a series revolving around the natural world and animal masks. My interest in masks concerns the human tendency to don personality masks, hiding true feelings or nega- tive aspects of the self and how that creates conflicts in facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language. There is always a hint of the hidden, no matter how benign the mask expression.

My interest in animals and nature comes from living in the mountains of California, surrounded by wildlife and native plants. The fox image developed after winter evening visits from two gray foxes. One had lived alone around here for years, and at some point completely lost his tail. He was a strange sight, like discovering a new animal species. The newer fox was smaller, sporting a long, lush tail. It was likely a vixen, and hopefully cubs were on the way.

Although animals tend not to mask feelings, people may don animal characteristics. I see the design process as playing with layers of meaning as much as dealing with layers of materials through the collage technique.

Joan Desmond