Joelle Mercedes / Spurious Fruit (Chicago)


Spurious Fruit (2021) by artist Joelle Mercedes


“Slowing down is not a function of speed…it’s a function of intimacy with a world that is agentially alive.” – Dr. Bayo Akomlafe (“Slowing down and surrendering human supremacy”, Green Dreamer #317, podcast)


Spurious Fruit is an artwork that is built through two primary components: print replicas from a recent inheritance of my grandmother’s pillowcases, and original field notes printed on transparency film. The prints are the fabric that construct an impractical kite that cannot be flown; its traditional function lies in the imaginary. The field notes, compiled from journal entries and observations while birding, are a series of documents that map my interior meanderings. 

I use these components as tools to study the boundlessness that was planted within me as a child by my grandmother. 

Her domestic space contained spirited objects, hanging on walls, placed on countertops and in hidden corners, that were activated routinely through her voice and touch. This energetic transfer between her objects and her body produced a deep sensuality within me as I witnessed and internalized these spiritual practices. 



Nature is an embodiment in one’s interior. 

What happens when this interior nature encounters the nature which is outside of oneself, in lagoons, birds, and prairies? My daily birding practice helps me to process my own spiritual embodiment that was stimulated in my grandmother’s home, as the practice requires an awareness of the breadth of the environment and a deep listening with one’s full body. Spurious Fruit functions as a layered diagram that organizes the ways my imagination was seeded, cultivated, and propagated into the wild by my beloved ancestor.

BIO: Joelle Mercedes is an artist and educator working in collage techniques that unsettle the restrictions of the two dimensional frame, examining and stretching origin, impermanence, and history. Their work has been presented in various forms at: KW Institute for Contemporary Art (Berlin, DE), TrueQué Residencia (Ayampe, EC), California Institute of the Arts (Valencia, CA), Lynden Sculpture Garden Gallery (Milwaukee), Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Hyde Park Art Center, Sullivan Galleries (Chicago). 


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