Connecting to the World Through Art with Joanna Cohn

At Nasdaq, we believe in the power of rewriting tomorrow and recognize that art is a powerful medium to conceptualize this vision. 

Joanna Cohn

The Nasdaq Artist Initiative engaged creators around the world, asking artists to create submissions that represent Nasdaq and the future of technology and human advancement to introduce as permanent installations at Nasdaq headquarters in Times Square. We spoke with Joanna Cohn about her artwork, “Pangaea.”

Could you please tell us about your art piece, its name and what it represents?

“Pangaea” is named after the ancient supercontinent that formed around 330 million years ago. The cyclical forming and breaking up of supercontinents in Earth’s history is a reminder of how small this moment is in time.

To make this painting, I recorded the intricate surface of the studio floor; minute details appeared as islands and sea as I added color upon color in layers of paint, ink and pastel. By recording the unnoticed world under our feet, I found myself confronting the complex relationship between human activity and the natural world. The micro becomes macro, and suddenly a vast continent appears. 

What themes do you explore through your artwork overall?

I am curious to explore many themes, but I have found much of my recent work revolves around the natural world and environmental issues. As an overarching theme, however, I am interested in the sensual power of the artwork. A work can accommodate a transformative shift of register, and although each viewer experiences the work subjectively, looking becomes a shared experience. And we become a community. 

I want my work to invite the viewer to connect with our world, and in this case, consider our relationship with the Earth at this moment in time. 

How do your experiences help shape the themes you choose to portray?

I am a professional singer alongside my art practice, and as such, I am interested in communication and making connections through art, music and words.

Why did you choose these colors and mediums to present your piece?

I enjoy using a mixture of ink, paint, wax, pastel and oil pastel so I can simulate the natural processes of corrosion, sedimentation and evaporation as layers of materials are added and removed and allowed to dry at various speeds.

I chose blue as a predominant color to imply a vast ocean and allow the surface to reveals what lies beneath. So these seas are no longer the traditional map maker’s light blue but run livid and chaotic as color is layered on color to suggest the teeming life beneath.   

What does it mean to have your artwork in Times Square?

This is a massive honor, and I feel really excited to share my work with a wider audience. 

Pangea by Joanna Cohn

"Pangea" by Joanna Cohn

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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Lyanne Alfaro


Lyanne is a producer, host and social media strategist at Nasdaq. Her team helps reimage the way Nasdaq tells stories about Nasdaq’s role in the future of technology via video, podcasting and social content. You can find her on social media @LyanneAlfaro

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