Sequestered Elements MFA Thesis Show by Joe Fowler

Sequestered Elements
Joe Fowler

This exhibition explores cultural objects from my home, the island of Newfoundland. Growing up and living there for most of my life has shaped my artistic output in ways I continue to discover, not just in terms of subject matter but also in how I actually go about making my art. Newfoundland is an island inhabited by a mixture of cultures faced with many challenges that dictate how and what they make; building shelters, technologies, vehicles, and other objects in accordance to restrictions and allowances of the rugged land, harsh weather, and scarce resources.

Lobster traps, fishing nets, small houses, anchors, boats, warm clothes, rubber boots, these are some of human made objects that dominate Newfoundland’s visual imagery. In my sculptural work I recreate and reflect on these objects in an attempt to explain them; Why are they here? What do they tell us? I have chosen, fishing nets, lobster traps, anchors, and ugly sticks as a point of departure in this exploration. These objects have many functions, they are practical, often serving a function related to basic survival. They also function as displays and decorations denoting a region, a people, and a culture. It is very normal to see these objects proudly displayed in front yards, in people’s homes or sheds, or in gift shop and restaurants. I believe that Newfoundland has unique culture of creativity which is present in these objects. I hope that by creating artwork that speaks to the material culture of Newfoundland I can shed some light on this unique relationship between people and objects in a place that inspires me.


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