When we look at an ordinary doorstop, having selected it from among other objects, a process is launched. This process ends with our interpretation of that doorstop. We take the information that we have sensed, aided by learning, memory and expectation, and turn it into something that we can make sense of and know.
To see something we (usually unconsciously) choose to see it. This choice is swayed by a predisposition to perceive things in certain ways. We can be influenced by context, personal motives, impulses, enticements and aesthetics. This is why we will choose one thing over another, and value objects differently. Finally, because of this same predisposition, certain objects may in fact become invisible to us.
The ceramic work of Joshua R. Clark is about how we see. His visual prompts can be overwhelming, appearing more as clutter than anything remarkable. Overall, we are charmed by their color and shine — like the delight of red hot candies or liquid gold — and presented with the opportunity to gauge the aesthetic appeal. However, once we see a discrete object it becomes visible and we recognize it. It is familiar. This may not have been a simple undertaking. Clark’s seemingly miscellaneous objects are out of place and often assigned an alternate purpose.
At that same time, Clark is building something. The work takes on the quality of an architectural model, or a still life setup. They are, as a whole, substantial, purposeful and deliberate. In this regard the pieces do fit together, grouped and stacked up into a single form. They too are something we can see, and like the doorstop, become something we can make sense of and know.
Clark encourages our engagement with his enticing persuasion combined with an aesthetic appeal. We want to look at this work. The allure is glossy and syrupy. We savor what we see. If we were to taste it, it would taste like a sweet confection, only a few days old. We also want to know how it was made, as though it is too real to be believed.
— John Dunn
“Like a pop song you cannot seem to get out of your head, I am interested in the things that capture our attention for surface reason, but which continue to haunt us for reasons we cannot quite put our finger on. In my practice the subject matter has always come from my daily experiences. A collection of associative experiences that I feel has the potential to communicate something telling about our collective human psychology, specifically as it relates to our desire for aesthetic experiences. There is a gap between how the world is presented to us, and how we then perceive it. A reality that can only be approached, but never fully grasped, and while no concrete meaning is possible, one can orbit close enough to the work of art to come away with something meaningful. This is how I wish my works to be engaged.”
— Joshua R. Clark
Joshua R. Clark is a ceramic artist who lives and works in Las Cruces New Mexico where he is an assistant professor of art at New Mexico State University. He received his B.F.A. from The Ohio State University and his M.F.A. from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2015.
He has exhibited nationally and internationally with notable exhibitions at the Yingge Ceramic Art museum in Taiwan, The Museum of Ceramics in Fiorano Italy, The Museum of International Design and Ceramics in Lav-eno Mombello Italy, The Xi’an City Wall Art Museum in Xian China, The Arizona State Museum of Art in Tempe Arizona, The Zanesville Museum of Art in Zanesville Ohio, and the Cranbrook Art Museum in Bloomfield Hills Michigan. Clark is included in the 2019 Gyeonggi International Ceramic Biennale, and received the Gold Prize in the 2016 Taiwan Ceramic Biennale.