Artist: Joshua Thomen
Exhibition: Still Here
Gallery: CSULB school of art, Dennis W. Dutzi Gallery
This week I had the pleasure of meeting Joshua Thomen on Wednesday February 23rd 2017. Joshua is a Junior here in his undergraduate at CSULB. . In Joshua’s gallery there was one large piece that was constructed by multiple smaller sculptures located on the Dennis W. Dutzi Gallery. When asking Joshua about his inspiration about his artwork he spoke about how as a child he always loved art because it was a great way to show self expression. Originally when applying to the art program here at CSULB Joshua had spoken of how he was a graphic design BFA major but after learning that sculpture was more expressive he had made the switch. Joshua has managed to encapsulate a piece of who he was in each sculpture, resulting in the final product being comprised of multiple smaller sculptures.
When talking to Joshua about his journey in artwork Joshua had said that art is all political. But what is most important is how and what you spend your time creating with the art. This piece of art was born around the time of the inauguration and that was what had inspired his piece. Joshua had said that during times of distress it is important to make things. His artwork is the way he processed the inauguration. However he shared a funny story in creating the artwork, because he was working with cement he needed to get the supplies from Home Depot which was a strange exploration of his masculine side. He had said that he had felt so out of place.
In the gallery there was one sculpture that was made of smaller sculptures that were placed in a pattern on the floor. The pattern was comprised of smaller figurines encapsulated within cement. The view from the back of the sculptures was described as quietness, the blank slates of concrete was dark and cold, where from the front the view is cute and warm.These figures were about 1.5 feet tall and maybe 6″ wide. When asking about the figurines Joshua had stated that he had not made the figurines himself but he had collected them from different antique shops from around LA. It was these figurines that he had chosen specifically because he had said that a piece of him and resonated inside each one. As a child Joshua had always related to cute things in cartoons, anime, hello kitty etc. All of these things are a part of his pop culture. To Joshua these ceramic animals stood out as cute, he had spoken of how back in the day cute things used to be related to queerness as a child and that’s why he chose these items specifically. When asking the artist about the position of the figurines Joshua had said that the word stuck came to mind, of feeling stuck and frustrated for what was going on in his life, and he was stuck in cement. The figurines were only visible from the frontal view however he was unsure if they were emerging from the concrete or sinking into it. It was during this time in his life that he felt stuck during the time of the election Joshua was unsure of how he should live, act, or dress, he was stuck in a world that he didn’t know how to belong. Within the room there was music playing that sounded like wind chimes which made a movement from industrial to domestic. It was this movement that was unique because the wind chimes music gave noise but at the same time it gave a sense of quietness and a calming effect throughout the room as well as the darkened room which was intended to relax the viewers. The setup of the room was created on purpose because Joshua wanted to see how people would move throughout the space, he had wanted to see if people would walk around the sculptures, through them, or go over it. The layout of the room was aesthetically pleasing to the artist as well as made you want to think about how you are supposed to move throughout the room and space. To heighten your senses and make you think outside the box.
When first walking into the room you had to walk through the front door which had a cloth over the window preventing light from entering the exhibit. As you walked in there were multiple smaller sculptures that were in a design on the floor. Upon closer inspection you were able to see that the sculptures themselves had an animal figurine encapsulated within the block of cement which to touch was smooth on some sides and rough on the others. All of the figurines had been polished giving them a cold and smooth touch. But the way in which the sculptures were put inside the cement made it look as if they were within a tombstone. The room itself was very dark and ominous, the entire room was black with a few lights pointing at specific sculptures on the floor. In the background you were able to head what sounded like wind chimes which gave it a very creepy feeling, where your hair stands on end. It was when walking into this first room that I felt as though I had walked into a room that was apart of a horror movie, with all of theses animals surrounded by cement.
I was able to resonate with this piece in particular because I personally have felt stuck in life. For not knowing how to move in the world that you live, worried about fitting in, having the right look, never knowing what to say or do. That you are alone and that nothing you can do will make the situation better, that you are stuck and can’t escape. This piece perfectly described that feeling and I can’t wait to see what other artwork that Joshua will make! Joshua is a talented artist and I am so glad that I was able to see his work and hear his story. Hopefully we will be able to see more of his work throughout the semester.
When talking to Joshua he had said that he doesn’t have a website, however he did have an instagram: voyezmessouvenirs. It is french for “you see my memories”. It is on this instagram where he post most of his artwork and writes about his stories and meanings behind his work.