Performance, printmaking, and puppetry — Grant Wood Fellow Johanna Winters gives talk at Stanley

On Jan. 26, she spoke about her work at the Stanley Museum of Art, allowing the community an opportunity to learn about her experience with puppetry, printmaking, and performance art.


Madyson Gomez

Attendees listen to guest speaker Johanna Winters during the Grant Wood Fellow Talk at the Stanley Museum of Art in Iowa City on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023. Winters’ work has been exhibited and performed nationally, Winters discussed her work and research in performance, video, printmaking, and puppetry.

Emma Gaughan, Arts Reporter

Uniting the two worlds of puppetry and printmaking is just one part of what makes Johanna Winters’ art and teaching engaging. Her work touches on vulnerable subjects like aging.

Winters is a Grant Wood Fellow, which is a one-year fellowship awarded to three students in printmaking, painting and drawing, and performance. Winters specializes in printmaking. On Jan. 26, Winters presented a talk at the Stanley Museum of Art on her expertise in the world of printmaking and puppetry.

In the lecture, Winters provided insight into her journey through the art world and a discussion about her methods and inspiration. The talk introduced Winters to other artists and people in the community and allowed them to gain a better understanding of her work and research.

“This is a particularly generous community here,” Winters said.

Winters’ art highlights the experience of aging in a female body and the anxieties and fears that come along with it. At the lecture, Winters presented examples of her work through photos and video recordings, which included scenes from her puppet performances “THE MIDDLE TELL” and “HOWW to BEHAAYV.”

Winters began her artistic career as a printmaker then explored the puppetry world during graduate school. She was then able to work with a puppeteer to learn how to make her own puppets and perform with them.

“I want people to be okay feeling a little uncomfortable,” Winters said about her art. “It is about bodies and the fallibility of the body, and sometimes it is uncomfortable to look at the objects.”

She said she does not take offense to the idea of someone viewing her work as weird or unsettling, and she thinks that being uncomfortable is a valid response to it.

“That’s how I feel too, in making it and thinking about it,” Winters said. “There’s some kind of relatability to that experience of living in a body — the way that a body can be disappointing or shameful or celebrated.” 

Winters shared these ideas of her work at the lecture, where she discussed making things that are too vulnerable or sensitive to be talked about otherwise.

 “The puppetry and the performance and print, I think, is really important and interesting, and it’s rarely seen,” Kara Stallings, Winters’ former student, said.

Winters’ work is simultaneously silly and serious in its subject matter and how she portrays it, Stallings said. Stallings, along with other attendees, wore distinct pointed hats made by Winters to the event.

“It’s incredibly interesting — sort of deeply surreal,” Thomas Moberg, another attendee, said. He also wore one of the coned hats made by Winters to the lecture.

Winters concluded the lecture by allowing attendees to ask questions about her work, which ranged from the sound used in her videos to the materials and methods.

Winters will be featured alongside the other fellows in an end-of-year Grant Wood Fellow exhibition in April.