Joseph Simon

Class of 2020

Artist Statement

In my past work, my focus has been on others, specifically my brother. The closest I have gotten to exploring my own experience is in pieces about my relationship with him. I have never otherwise explored my own personality or why I make art. This series is not about conveying to the viewers an experience I have had; it is about conveying myself. While the subjects in my past work are certainly still important, there are many other parts of my life and personality that have and will shape who I am. I will discuss multiple experiences I have had, questions in my life, and traits I see in myself, but ultimately this work is about how I perceive myself.

In this sculpture series I use plaster gauze, chicken wire, and cardboard to create textured structures that branch, stand, and hang to create different textural and formal experiences. I explore four different views of myself. The Flower Series, a triptych of rough, branching, tree like arms, depicts my deteriorating relationship with my brother before his death. This was my prior view of my life, only viewing myself through the lens of a failed brother, unable to help a family member before it was too late. Another work, 4lbs, expresses a near death experience of my own. This second view of my life is of another failure, following my brother’s footsteps into the world of drug abuse, but coming out of it seeing how that life could end up and changing for the better. Jellyfish, a hanging multitude of plaster gauze strips, represents the struggle to control one’s life and the ideal of being able to help others and take care of yourself simultaneously with ease. Finally, we have Mirror, a reflection on how one sees oneself. Looking at this piece means looking through it, not just admiring a surface level image or texture. The point of this piece is to look through it, past the initial response, a practice I am working on with myself. How you see yourself is always obstructed by something or enhanced by another. For me, my past traumas blocked me from seeing myself in any light besides “failure” or “stupid.” I am now working on, through my work as well as other activities, seeing myself as an entire piece, rather than just fragmented pieces in the series that has made up my life.

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