- Contemporary Visual Art for Human Rights -

Joe Hedges

Posted on January 28 2016

Joe Hedges is an american intermedia artist, curator and art educator working at Washington State University. After studied painting at Northern Kentucky University where received his Bachelor of Fine art, Hedges gets a MFA from University of Cincinnati’s DAAP

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Joe Hedges is an american intermedia artist, curator and art educator working at the Washington State University. After studying painting at the Northern Kentucky University where he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts, Hedges got an MFA from University of Cincinnati’s DAAP – College of Design, Architecture, Art & Planning. Joe Hedges’s art curriculum includes many artistic experiences, professional activities, exhibitions, awards and distinctions.

His artistic practice combines several media, both traditional and digital such as paintings, digital prints, photos and videos, means through which this artist explores the links between science and art. As shown in the series presented by Loosenart, Hedges’s work is the result of a research about the nature of objects, both artificial and organic, and the possibility of knowledge generated by scientific experimentation. In his work the reflection of the human relationship with technology and the natural world is dealt with by attempting to re imbue decommissioned objects with a new sense of function and meaning, rearranging discarded objects, such as plastic toys, frayed wires or plant parts, into new configurations. And again, as the artist himself claims, these images attempt to make electronic materials more corporeal as our devices become more networked, more ubiquitous and thus more invisible in the information age.
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L.A.: Hello Joe, can you talk about the relationship to technology and the
natural world in your images?
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Joe Hedges: The relationship between advancing technologies and the natural
world is among the greatest concerns of our age.  Can we prevent the
destruction of renewable resources through creating greener sources of energy
and greener ways of producing goods?  With scientists attempting (and failing)
to find dark matter particles, where are the limits of our knowledge of the
universe?  It is difficult to engage with these questions in broad ways so my
work has instead focused on small moments on human scale that reveal
tensions between what is natural and unnatural, exploring both shortcomings in
our understanding and the unyielding force of our volition.  Objects like handles
of hairdryers and rocks from creek beds become relatable stand-ins and
metaphors for these larger forces.
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L.A.: How do you come up with ideas for your works?
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Joe Hedges: Although I generally work in an intuitive manner, the ideas are
coming from a variety of places; I read a good deal of articles, mostly current
events and science.  I read recently a claim that "Art is Not Self-Expression,"
that rather it is an expression of all the things you are exposed to, an expression
of the culture that has formed the artist.  I thought that was an astute way of
seeing it.  I have a BFA in painting and although I work in a variety of media, I
often draw from painting history to inform the aesthetics of the works.  Most
everything I make comes from painting history plus contemporary issues,
childhood collections and healthy interest in experimentation and play.
Sometimes I think what I am doing now is basically an intellectualized version of
my childhood interests: collecting boxes and weird gadgets, drawing.  It is either
a happy coincidence or destiny that those interests have provided some
foundation through which to explore contemporary ideas through art.
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 "Geodesic" │ Buy it
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L.A.: Can you discuss your creative process for making these images
more generally?
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Joe Hedges: I am currently making both oil paintings and digital images. The
works on Loosenart.com are prints of digital images that are created through
photography and manipulation.  In all my works I prefer to use processes that
leave the final work with a sense of ambiguity about how it was created. For
most of the images, the work is done in reality--positioning and repositioning
seemingly random objects until some meaning or visual interest emerges.
Often I begin with no sense or goals about how the resulting objects will
interact.  As a situation begins to take shape, I also begin thinking about ways I
might further manipulate the imagery digitally.  The resulting images are thus
more "real" than people might assume, a fact that I feel helps strengthen the
content about the ambiguity of reality and the limits of knowledge.
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I am inspired most obviously by product photography and the white cube of the
contemporary art gallery.  But other references closer to my heart include early
American Trompe-l'œil painting and the austere and grid-like still life
compositions of 17th century Spanish painter Francisco de Zurbarán. As a
painter I am often thinking about how modernist notions of the grid inform ideas
about the trustworthiness of an image.
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L.A.: Can you take one of your works from those presents at LoosenArt
Gallery and express a personal comment about meanings or concepts?
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Joe Hedges: The work Geodesic includes an empty box, the side of an
ambiguous plastic disc and half of a geode (a rock full of crystals).  The title
refers to all definitions: 1. a reference to of, relating to, or denoting the shortest
possible line between two points on a sphere or other curved surface.; 2.
another term for geodetic (the science of accurately measuring and
understanding three fundamental properties of the Earth). and 3. a geodesic
line or structure.  Between the geometry of computers, an interest in the visual
language of geology and finally the Geodecic dome, invented by Buckminster
Fuller, an American architect, systems theorist, author, and designer.  The
geode is a metaphor for inner beauty, mystery and time on a geologic sense.
The confused, pixelated space is a commentary on the tension between the
natural world of earth and the screen-based domination of 21st century life.
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L.A.: Are you working on any other projects currently?
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Joe Hedges: The most recent project I have completed is a video that I
created with my partner Jiemei Lin.  The film, A Curious Inventory
(https://vimeo.com/142172663), relates to a series of paintings of boxes. It is
being shown in two exhibitions in a couple weeks, one in Boston, MA and one in
Oakland, CA, and hopefully some experimental film festivals in 2016.   Mei and I
have begun sketching out ideas for a film that explores some of the imagery
and content in these digital images presented on Loosenart.com.  I'll keep you
posted!.
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Joe Hedges  www.joehedges.com

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