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My paintings and sculptures explore such social issues as the power of women and the pressures that society puts on them, the element of fate and chance in our lives, the violence behind facades and the fragility of our world. These works encompass a wide variety of sources and information. I juxtapose images from pop culture, art historical references, scenic postcards, erotic comics, and news clips of protest movements. I approach these serious themes with a sense of humor to create a visual tension of opposing realities.
My current series, Censored, is an example of these colliding worlds where reproductions in art and society have been censored. In art books from Iran, famous paintings with any nudity by artists like Picasso, Matisse, Manet, Cezanne and Hockney have been covered with black lines or pixilated so that the painting or sculpture has been obscured. Other sources are from IKEA’s catalogue in Saudi Arabia where the women have been removed from the ad. In other advertisements that show women, such as on the covers of boxes for kiddie swimming pools, the women have been repeatedly blacked out.
My interactive installation, The Sideshow of the Absurd uses the world of circuses and carnivals to challenge our notions of difference and tolerance. In these large-scale sculptures and paintings, I embrace the personal influences that have shaped my life and my work. Despite the variety of materials that I employ, I regard all of my art as interconnected. A short film on the Sideshow of the Absurd has recently premiered at the Aspen Film Festival and is now showing in film festivals nationwide.
Pamela Joseph is a multi-media artist who has exhibited nationally and internationally, in locations such as Paris, Barcelona, and Beijing. Her work has been described as “well-executed, powerful and edgy” by the Colorado Council on the Arts, who awarded her a Visual Arts Fellowship in 2001. Joseph was subsequently selected as a Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome 2003 and 2004.
In 2009 she had her first solo show, Wunderlust, at the Francis M. Naumann Fine Art Gallery in New York. Her most recent solo show, Censored, opened there on April 2 – May 22, 2015. This series of Joseph’s new paintings was inspired by Iranian art books, in which depictions of nudity rendered by artists such as Picasso, Hockney and Matisse, have been blacked-out by hand or pixilated during the printing process. The series also explores censorship of women in Saudi Arabia and Russia, such as the protest group Pussy Riot. A book on this series will be published by DoppelHouse Press in 2016 and will include essays by Francis Naumann, Eleanor Heartney, and Glenn Harcourt who further explore the topic of censorship.
This past winter Joseph was in a group show at Yale University, where she took part in a panel discussion and presented a talk about her work. Entitled Sideshow, the exhibit features a selection of wood-burned kitchen cutting boards that provocatively depict smiling women who appear to be in peril. These pieces are part of her multi-media installation, Sideshow of the Absurd, which premiered in 2001 at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art and was most recently exhibited October 2013 – January 2014 at the Fine Arts Center in Colorado Springs. The installation is a contemporary carnival, which celebrates the power of women while simultaneously exploring the violence behind facades, and the element of fate and chance in our lives. The show has been exhibited, all or in part, at ten museums and galleries throughout the U.S., garnering outstanding reviews and record-breaking crowds at each location. A film about the exhibition by Tina DiFeliciantonio and Jane C. Wagner of Naked Eye Productions premiered April 2015 at the Aspen Shortsfest, one of the world’s premiere festivals that showcases short films from around the world. The film is currently being shown in Filmfests nationwide.
Joseph’s work was selected to be shown as part of two group shows in Beijing, China. The exhibition, Insatiable Streams, celebrated the ten year anniversary of The Institute for Electronic Arts at Alfred University and opened in 2007 at Zero Field Art Center in the 798 Art Zone. The second exhibition, Duiying-Yingdui, Corresponding & Responding, was shown at The National Art Museum of China, and involved a dialogue between Chinese and American artists. A 2011 reciprocal exhibition at the University of Colorado Art Museum, in Boulder included the same Chinese artists.