Brooklyn, NY 2010
Born (1976) in New Hampshire, Joseph Hart lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. In 1999, he received a BFA
from the Rhode Island School of Design. His work was recently included in the New Talents section at Art
Cologne. He has also been the recipient of The Saltonstall Foundation Residency Fellowship. Hart’s
mixed media works on paper have been exhibited at The Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Santa Monica
Museum of Art, International Print Center New York, as well as at Galerie Vidal Saint-Phalle, in Paris,
Klaus Von Nichtssangend Gallery, Sue Scott Gallery, CRG Gallery, Alexander & Bonin and David Krut
Projects in New York, among others.
I was once an athlete. I wasn’t the best player on my teams, though I accrued a substantial collection of
sports trophies. These trophies featured plastic figurative statuettes, painted metallic gold, and were
appropriately depicted kicking, throwing or shooting a ball. The figures were rigid and lifeless and the
limbs would sometimes snap off but I would carefully glue the fragments back together. The statuettes
were positioned atop a lacquered wood pedestal and anchored by a marble base. Phrases like
“CHAMPION” and “FIRST PLACE” were often etched into the marble, encouraging my ego. These
trophies were miniature monuments to my achievements, and they made me feel powerful and
virtuous and good at something. They were an archive of events. I would carefully compose my trophy
collection on my bookshelf, making sure that the most impressive trophy had pride of place. They were
sculptures. They were decorations. They were desperate objects. These trophies were cheap, hollow,
and gathered dust.
Some people collect objects, or souvenirs, as fun, or as a way to remember and preserve their
experiences and history. Seashells, baseball cards, coins, records, tchotchkes and works of art are
popular items to collect. Sometimes collecting and displaying becomes a serious hobby, a fetish, a
business, an institution, or it somehow fulfills psychological emptiness and boredom. We even
occasionally project our hopes and dreams onto our collections. Displayed objects can structure our
value systems and hierarchies.
In my current practice, I utilize visits to museums along with reproductions from art history books as
platforms for examining the politics and economics of display, and how value can be suggested
through different modes of presentation. Fixtures such as vitrines, shelves, frames, and plinths are
reoccurring images in my work, providing formal architecture while also serving as symbols of
significance. Perhaps neurotically re-arranging my trophy display when I was younger first introduced
me to these ideas.
I work on paper, incorporating a variety of approaches and materials including painting, drawing, and
cut paper-collage. I intend to create small moments that are alternatively calm and chaotic, hard and
soft, that push and pull, and create other forms of tension that lead to awkward yet resolved
compositions. Manipulating images, layering color and marks, folding, cutting, editing, destroying and
building back up the image play essential roles in my studio practice. Though I make two-dimensional
work, I’m influenced by three dimensional sculpture, density and space. My treatment is very controlled
at times, and loose during others, creating a diverse set of marks and gestures that might suggest the
shape of a tool or weapon, a vessel, artifact, a floral still-life, the contour of a figure, or the sum of these
objects unraveling into delicate abstraction.
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