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EXPO Profile: Emily Joseph

EXPO Profile: Emily Joseph

: The commission: Emily receives her hard hat for the project from InCity's Skip Slaven.. Photo by Winifred Westergard.

EXPO Profile: Emily Joseph

: Emily's space at EXPO 13.. Photo by Mark Bocek.

EXPO Profile: Emily Joseph

: Emily at her studio at Cornish.. Photo by Mark Bocek.

EXPO Profile: Emily Joseph

: Detail from After the Wedding, acrylic on canvas, 36-in x48-in.. Photo by Mark Bocek.

EXPO Profile: Emily Joseph

: Emily in her studio at Cornish.. Photo by Mark Bocek.

EXPO Profile: Emily Joseph

: Emily in her studio at Cornish, lower down.. Photo by Mark Bocek.

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LAST DAYS – Emily Joseph’s work dominates the wall at EXPO 13, but it’s closing; it’s OK, Emily will move right on to a big commission.

’Til Saturday the 25th, Emily Joseph’s work and the work of her peers in the Cornish class of 2013 are on display at EXPO 13. There’s a ton to see, the product of four years of an art education.

Joseph’s work stands out, even among all the wonderful things to see at EXPO. It has restraint, high craft and pure presence. The canvases are abstractions in the pure sense of that word, in that Emily started with everyday images and worked them ’til they broke into stripes of pure color, for the most part. The result are rich, gridded picture plains. The pictures don’t capture the depth of the pieces, which have almost a three-dimensional quality.

“I’m working on my own system of abstracted, gridded portraiture,” Joseph said recently. “All the grids are based on original images of people in a specific place.”

More explicitly, they are about her life. “Personally, they’re my memories from childhood,” she says. “I guess I’m trying to create a collective memory for people to come to through color and abstracted imagery by avoiding direct representation.”

“I took an original image and went from background to foreground,” Emily continues. “In general, with the images I used, the people are in the foreground. And building from the background up with color I just selected, the colors I wanted to work with. The larger the piece, the more colors I incorporated.”

“Everything is from either a person or the environment around them, or their clothing,” Joseph said. She indicated one of the paintings. “This image is funny because it came from an image of my family and everyone is wearing a different color of jeans. So that’s where I got all the blues from, from what everyone was wearing.”

Significantly, the images are not completely digested by the abstraction. Here and there are telltale gradients amid the pure bands of color. This is important to Emily. “I like to incorporate little glimpses of the original image,” she said, “like there’s something behind there, but you don’t get to see all of it.” Among the images accompanying this article, you can see what she means in a detail from After the Wedding, acrylic on canvas, 36-in x48-in.

Emily is happy about her area of EXPO. “I’m really excited that the space that I’ll be in you’ll be able to step really far back, or look at them close up,” said Joseph. “I’ve never looked at them from farther than 15 feet, so we’ll see. They definitely blend together the further back you go. It’s interesting.”


Unlike some of the grads, Emily Joseph knows exactly what she’ll be doing next. Earlier this month, she won a commission to produce a piece for a Capitol Hill apartment building at 418 Bellevue Avenue East.

In an event that is becoming more commonplace at Cornish, the art department received a request for help finding an artist to produce a public work of art. In this case, the request came from InCity Properties. Christy Johnson and Cable Griffith suggested the request should become an educational vehicle in the form of a “request for proposals” the be addressed by interested students.  Ten of them created proposals, and that list was whittled down to five. The short-listed art students then presented their proposals to a committee led by InCity’s Skip Slaven, faculty members and art officials from the city. In the end, they chose Emily. She will start work on the commission this summer.

Emily described her immediate plans for her post-Cornish life more simply: “Get a studio. Work. Hopefully. Show.”

EXPO 13: BFA Exhibition, May 10 – May 25, 2013, on Cornish campus.
Art May 10 – 25, Virginia/Terry Building; Design May 10 – 24, Main Campus Center. Gallery Hours Mon – Sat, 12 – 5 pm.

EXPO 13 builds upon the annual BFA Exhibition, highlighting the depth and range of our students’ creative inquiry and expression at Cornish College of the Arts. The Art and Design shows serve as the keystone to an expanded schedule of events, including dialogue, performances, and artistic interventions. EXPO 13 celebrates the achievements of Cornish’s graduating seniors by acknowledging their contributions as professional artists and designers. Cornish is proud of their determination, hard word, and appetite for experimentation, as they turn their ambitions from school towards society. Congratulations to the class of 2013.


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