Joy Miessi’s self-documentation artworks communicate the feeling of displacement 

15 May 2017

London-based illustrator and artist Joy Miessi uses her artworks as a method of self-documentation of both the past and present. In particular, “my life and experience as an individual from the diaspora,” says the artist.

“I was born in the UK and have been raised in an environment that was Congolese at home and British outside of that,” Joy explains. “My childhood was a clash of two cultures and ultimately left me with the feeling of displacement, as a black Congolese person in Britain and a black British person in Congo.” This feeling of displacement has become the main focus of Joy’s pieces in aesthetic and context. “My text-based work articulates my experience as a black person in the UK and my journey of understanding origin, race and its intersection within British culture.”

Joy’s artworks combine typography, illustration and painting, creating pieces that feel personal but still communicate a distinct message to a wider audience. Each artwork has a vibrancy to it in Joy’s voice and artistic style. “I use a range of processes such as drawing, painting and collaging to compose pieces that make reference to my everyday life here in Britain. Crossing cultures through the use of hand type, inspired by Congolese shop fronts, to create work that reflects my identity and viewpoint as an artist affected by the history of the diaspora of Congolese people.”

The next opportunity to see Joy’s work will be at We Are Here – British BME Women Exhibition from 6 – 9 July at Alev Lenz Studio. The group exhibition displays the work of black, minority, ethnic female artists “and their individual responses of what it means to be a BME, British woman in today’s society”. The exhibition serves as an opportunity to highlight how, These two identities, British and BME, are often seen as mutually exclusive and this exhibition aims to provide a platform for celebration and discussion for BME artists to explore their dual British identity at a public level.”


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Joy Miessi: Afro


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Lucy Bourton

Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019 she was made deputy editor and in November 2021, became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.

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