Week No.5: Artist Conversation

Exhibition Information

  • Artist: Joshua Thomen
  • Exhibition: Still Here
  • Media: cement, found objects
  • Gallery: Dennis W. Dutzi Gallery
  • Instagram:  @voyezmessouvenirs

About the Artist

Joshua Thomen is a third year student at Cal State Long Beach in the School of Art. He is planning on applying for the BFA program in drawing at the end of this semester. Since he was young, he has always been intrigued by the kitsch aesthetic and that plays a major role in his artwork. He is attracted to “cute things”, according to his words such as anime and Hello Kitty. He also believes that it is very important for artists to create art during a time of discourse because that is when  His exhibit of Still Here is featured as an undergrad BA show and incorporates his love towards what was stated above in a powerful way.

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Formal Analysis

The exhibit consisted of only  two types of media for the creation of the art. Thomen used found objects that he had bought from antique shops for his piece. They are all objects that can be found at someone’s house that serve no other purpose than decor. The other material he used was cement to make concrete bricks that would hold the objects. The two parts of the work are contrasting to each other because one is soft and naive  while the other is plain and  When entering the space, it is very dull in color but the ambience seems to be light. The bricks are set up in a a shallow zig-zag line at the entrance of the gallery. The space in general is very frontal.

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Content Analysis

Still Here is a way for Thomen to express his feelings towards what is happening in America at the moment, especially with politics. He used apolitical objects to create something that would touch certain political subjects. He utilized two different types of material that are gender specific. The toys being more feminine because society usually identifies cute, ceramic things as woman related. The cement is masculine because it is usually men who work on construction sites rather than women. His goal with the ambience was to make it feel as innocent as possible. Because of this, Thomen dimmed the lights and added music to the background. The music created a dreamy effect with the wind chimes. The music being soft, as well as the lights, gave an opposing feel to the cement bricks. The way the bricks were set up, controlled the way people moved through space. It was a way for Thomen to have control over the people viewing the gallery. Also it was ironic that the art work created a wall like structure.

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My Experience

As soon as I walked into the gallery, I felt a little crept out only because I did not know what was going on. I then began to analyze the art work and try to figure out the representation of ceramic toys and their relationship to the blocks. The first thing that came to my mind was a child’s nursery because of the toys and the music that was playing. Then I decided to walk around to the other side of the display. Viewing the bricks from behind gave it a very dead feeling to what was going on in the front. I found it interesting to see no one, other than my friends, walk around to the side we were standing at during the time we were in the gallery.

I really enjoyed seeing a gallery that spoke to what was going on in this country at the moment. Thomen stated that he had began his piece as soon as the inauguration began. He along with myself both felt that this new government will come hand in hand with a time of turmoil. There is nothing better to do during these complicated times than to create art. Creating art at a time of discourse makes people think outside the box about certain believes, and hopefully change people’s ideas on life.

 

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