Getting to Know Hoosier Artist Joanie Drizin:Owner of Girly Steel Studio

Joanie Drizin’s art is so unique and fun, that after seeing her artistic offerings at this year’s Broad Ripple Art Fair and the Penrod Arts Fair I wanted to buy a house just so I could decorate the lawn. Joanie is the owner and sole creative force behind Girly Steel, which has been part of the Indianapolis arts community for over 12 years now. As the name Girly Steel suggests, Joanie is female, and yes she works with steel. But we at enjoy her work so much we just had to know more about this Indiana artist.

While she was born and raised in Cincinnati, Drizin has been proud to call herself a Hoosier for over 20 years now. She was exposed to the arts at an early age, thanks in part to an artist living next door during her childhood, as well as having creative parents. Joanie built on these early artistic foundations by attending the Academy of Communicative Arts after high school. Her fine arts degree from ACA lead her to jobs in both the advertising and design industries, but something was missing.

“I had been creating art my whole life and my jobs after college were just not expressive enough” Drizin remembers. It was right around this time that Joanie and her husband moved to Indianapolis and started their new life together. Deciding that the time had come, Joanie started creating and selling art in Indianapolis. At first, she was working with textiles and clay, but found her true calling while taking ceramic classes at the Indianapolis Art Center in Broad Ripple Village.

“I was taking a pottery course at the art center and saw what the metal work classes were doing and it looked like so much fun, so I had to try it.” Just like that, an iron working artisan was born. Over the past 12 years that Drizin has been welding, cutting and bending iron, she has developed her own style. Since she does not work from any molds or templates, each piece of art she creates is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.

Lost amongst all the beauty Joanie creates, is the physicality of working with a medium such as iron. In case you haven’t realized, that stuff is heavy and unforgiving. So why does she put up with all the cramping and aching muscles? “I just want to make people smile. I imagine a customer walking into their garden or yard, look at a work of mine and saying to themselves, man I really love that.”

When Joanie first started artistically arranging iron, she was working out of her garage. But, as her driveway quickly started gathering iron filings and her yard was being over run with pieces, she decided it was time to open her own studio. For the past six years she has operated out of her studio in Noblesville, IN. When a patron first enters Drizin’s shop, they might get the feeling they are standing in an iron scrap yard, and with good reason. Joanie is somewhat of a fixture at the local junkyard because she makes a concerted effort to use as much recycled material as possible.

When asked why she feels art is so important, Joanie replied simply that “art has the capacity to make you feel good.” This is a concept she tries to pass on to others in the Circle City. For the last nine years Joanie has done her part to expand art education in Indianapolis by teaching in the very building she learned her trade, the Indianapolis Art Center in Broad Ripple. She says that most of her students are Indianapolis children who find iron work a powerful outlet of self-expression and teenage angst.

Seeing as how most of her work is created as outdoor installations, Joanie would caution Indianapolis museum goers not to overlook exterior art. Besides the installations on permanent display in the gardens outside of the Indianapolis Art Center, Joanie is excited about the Fairbanks Art and Nature Park, located on the grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, which will officially open in the Spring of 2010. This 100-acre nature reserve will be home to outdoor works of artists from around the world.

No matter what your level of knowledge is regarding art, Joanie Drizin creates pieces that anyone can appreciate and enjoy. Next time you are at an Indy area art fair, or looking for something to do in Noblesville, be sure to find Girly Steel. Not only will the artwork blow you away, but the warmth and sincerity of Joanie Drizin will make you want to stay.

To see a full gallery of Girly Steel creations, visit Joanie’s website today.