Joan Ragan Kállay was born in Davenport, Iowa, in 1961. She spent her childhood surrounded by vast fields of corn and grand Victorian and Italianate mansions along the bluffs of the Mississippi River. She is the sixth of seven siblings, all female. Family vacations introduced her to the forested mountains of the Pacific Northwest.
She attended The University of Montana-Missoula and received a B.F.A. with emphasis in painting and drawing. Reflecting on the inhabitants of the historical homes on the bluffs, her thesis exhibit focused on portraits of Victorian women and their assigned roles as daughter, wife and mother. Joan also earned a Montana teaching certificate and has taught Art at both private therapeutic boarding schools and public schools; junior high and high school. She has written and conducted professional development Art Education curriculum workshops for teachers to earn certificate renewal units through the Montana Education Association and the Montana Office of Public Instruction.
As Associate Education Curator at both the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, and the Hockaday Museum of Art in Kalispell, Montana, Joan’s expertise in art education was put to good use in their family and school services and outreach programs.
Returning to The University of Montana for her M.A. she focused on clothing design; handsomely constructed women’s garments from 1860-1920, examining how women’s roles in society mirrored the altered silhouette.
Joan’s current works are sculpted papiér mâché vignettes celebrating women of strong constitution. These emancipated thinkers and achievers are secure in their talents and sense of style, which adds to their charm. Fashion, location and action convey cultural ideas. By reinforcing identity through these avenues the figures represent self-confidence, ritual and the spirit of play.
Another form of expression for Joan are her handsomely constructed journals made of leather, resist dyed wool or a selection of beautiful paper. She created Aunt Joan Productions, LLC to keep up with demand. It is not uncommon to hear of her teaching bookbinding classes at local venues.
The mountains, softer winters and true love anchors Joan to her Montana home and studio.
- Montana Artrepreneurship Program certification
- Published in two national trade magazines
- Facilitated an advisory team of artists
- Continued participation in exhibits and continuing education to remain attuned to the art world