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Josette Simon-Gestin

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I grew up in Brittany, France where I studied art at The Beaux-arts in Rennes. As a consequence of my husband's work, I moved to Oklahoma City in 1987. I started to print at Paseo Intaglio Printers and to show my art in group and individual shows. My art work was shown in Florida, Missouri, California, Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana and in Japan. I later moved to Philadelphia where I got involved with the Women's Caucus for Art and Art at the Armory. After three years my family and I returned to Europe. 

In Italy, Austria, and France, my work was exhibited in several galleries. In Brittany for four years, I reconnected with my roots and was invited to be in the Euroceltic Festival in Lorient. During this stay in Europe, my work was still shown in the United States and was acquired by private and public collections such as Hyatt Hotel Hawaii, Mayo Clinic Minneapolis and, in Oklahoma at the Health Science Center, Coach House restaurant, and Irish Realty among many other collections. My work is part of the Oklahoma State University collection at Stillwater,OK. 

I attended the Oklahoma City Festival of the Arts 11 times and was the poster artist in 1992. I had several one-person exhibits in Oklahoma, the Norick Art Center Oklahoma City University, City Art Center, Pickard Gallery, Untitled [ArtSpace] and Nault Gallery. One year ago, I moved to Denmark where I continued exhibiting my work. My first exhibit in Copenhagen was at Morkhoj bibliotek.this September. I had returned to Oklahoma City for the reopening of Nault Gallery in their new space with a new series of works titled “Playtime, draw the line” this last October. 

I had often painted children and children games. For me, art has always been connected to playfulness. As D.W. Winnicot, psychoanalyst and pediatrician, argued: “play is universal part of every human being’s creativity and the source of a meaningful life. Making art is a form of play.” 

As I remember the games I used to play in the school yard during recess and on the sidewalks after school, I go back to a place where time has slowed down and where I evolved in an imaginary world with its own rules and logic. We can apply the same words to the creative process followed by the artist. The artist creates a bridge between reality and his interpretation of the world using his own techniques and codes. Our myths and fears are transcended through art. As human beings all over the world we have the same questionings. 

Games like marbles, Chinese jumping rope, and hopscotch exist in a lot of different countries with variations. We are reminded that what brings us together is less important that what separates us. Hopscotch is called pousse-pion in Cameroun, amarelina in Brazil; dama in Bulgaria and marelle in France. Chinese texts mentioned it as early as 2000 BC. The symbolism of this game is often associated to the path of life with hell and sky. Chalk is used to draw boxes on the ground. Players toss a small object into numbered spaces and hop or jump to retrieve the object. 

One piece of chalk is enough sometimes to reinvent the world and to be connected to another human being in a non-virtual way. In a society where computer games are prevalent, play time should go back to a certain innocence and simplicity. Furthermore, it is important to show that art does not belong only to museums but is available to everyone on a daily basis. I look forward to recreating a time where art and play is everyone’s language. 

With Matisse and Chagall not far away, I paint and draw and create a word of fantasy with colors to illuminate the world. 

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