Born in 1942 in São Paulo, Josely Carvalho began her formal art education at the Fundação Armando Álvares Penteado, where she studied with Marcelo Grassmann (1925–2013) and Darel Valença Lins (b. 1924). A series of grants enabled her to travel to North America, where she continues to reside. In 1967 Carvalho earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Washington, where she studied with the printmakers Leslie Laskey (b. 1921) and Shiko Munakata (1903–1976). Between 1971 and 1974 Carvalho taught at the National University of Mexico, and since 1976 she has lived and worked largely in New York. Building on her early work as a printmaker, Carvalho has developed a mixed-media practice that includes silk screen, video, performance, installation, poetry, book making, and, most recently, net art. She describes these diverse activities as chapters from an ongoing series, Diary of Images, which consistently addresses issues of memory and the body.
Carvalho's practice is deeply social and has regularly taken politically activist forms. In 1976 she founded the Silkscreen Project at St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery, which produced materials for political rallies and public demonstrations. She was a regular contributor to Heresies: A Feminist Publication on Art and Politics and actively participated in political movements, including Artists' Call against US Intervention in Central America and the Women's Action Coalition. Carvalho co-organized Choice Works (1985), an exhibition on reproductive rights, and Connections Project / Conexus (1987), a collaboration between women artists from Brazil and the United States.
The artist has received numerous grants, including awards from the National Endowment for the Arts (1975, 1991, 1995–96), New York Foundation for the Arts (1986–87, 1999–2000), Creative Time (1988), Creative Capital (2000), and the Rockefeller Foundation (2000). Her public artworks include commissions from the Public Art Fund in New York (1988) and São Paulo Metrô (1995). Carvalho's work has also been presented in solo and group exhibitions at venues including the 2nd Havana Biennial (1986); Museum of Modern Art, New York (1988); and Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, Venezuela (1989). Carvalho's work is held by numerous public collections, notably the Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York; Brooklyn Museum; and Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo.
Selected Solo Exhibitions
1986 Olor a pescado, Casa de las Américas, Havana
1991 My Body Is My Country, Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT
2003 0001. Tracajá, Museu de Arte Contemporânea de São Paulo
2007 Desencantando Salmu, Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo
2010 Nidus vitreo, Museu Nacional de Belas Artes, Rio de Janeiro
Carvalho, Josely. Diary of Images: It's Still Time to Mourn. Rochester, NY: Visual Studies Workshop Press, 1992.
———. "Does Culture Have Color?" In Meaning: An Anthology of Artists' Writings, Theory, and Criticism, edited by Susan Bee and Mira Schor, 208–9. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000.
Lippard, Lucy. "Visitations." In My Body Is My Country, edited by Josely Carvalho, 5–7. Hartford, CT: Real Art Ways, 1991.
Rejoining the Spiritual: The Land in Contemporary Latin American Art. Baltimore: Maryland Institute College of Art, 1994.
Wye, Deborah. Committed to Print: Social and Political Themes in Recent American Printed Art. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1988.