Joan Waltemath was born in Nebraska in 1953. She received her BFA in Painting in 1976 from RISD and her MFA in Painting in 1993 from Hunter College CUNY. She has lived and worked in New York City since 1977 and collaborated with filmmakers, musicians, architects, writers, and other artists in collective groups and through special projects since the early days of the downtown No Wave era. “Ok, Today, Tomorrow”—a film produced out of her studio in the early ‘80s—was shown at MoMA and archived in their collection in 2017. Ocean Earth, an offshoot of Space Force, an early investigation into satellite mapping, is operative today.
In 1997 John Hejduk invited Waltemath to teach Architectonics at The Cooper Union with Raimund Abraham and David Gersten, reconfiguring what had been covered in Robert Slutzky’s color and composition course as first-year seminars. Waltemath used the formal analysis of the first-year critiques to develop her seminars, considering parallel formal problems in works of art to expand on the philosophical and poetic dimensions of formal decisions. In the process, she evolved a syntactical basis for painting language that drew its inspiration from architecture. Her seminars quickly became the basis for critical writings and led her to become one of the founding members of the Brooklyn Rail where she has served as an editor-at-large since 2001. Waltemath remained at Cooper until 2010. She is now Director of the LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting at the Maryland College Institute of Art (MICA), one of the nation’s top MFA programs in painting. In an interview with The Finch (April, 2017), Waltemath discusses her approach to teaching painting and architecture, and the influences that have shaped her work.
Her paintings and drawings have been shown in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, Portland, San Diego, London, Basel, Amsterdam, and Cologne, and are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Art, Yale University Art Galleries, Harvard University Art Museums, the New York Public Library, the Hammer Museum, the San Diego Museum of Art, the Seattle Art Museum, the Blanton Museum of Art, the University of Texas, Austin, and the Musée des Beaux-Arts in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, among others.