Week 5-Artist Conversation- Elyse Vega

d339d34cJoshua Tomokazu Thomen is a Pasadena native and third year here at the beach pursuing a degree of BFA. His direct branch in the art department is the sculpture program, which he believes will keep him at the beach for 5 years. His exhibition is defined as “Still here” and was placed in the Dennis W Dutzi art hall in the art gallery. Joshua identifies himself as feminine, but is a male, which influenced is work. The material he chose has a composition of gender, with the concrete and darkness being that of male and the delicate figurines being female. As a child, he always related to anime and cartoons, as he is of Asian descent. He grew to relate queerness to cuteness, and felt that the figurines he purchased all throughout Los Angeles captured that. Joshua always liked at and felt it was his way of elf-expression, which gives us insight that his work will almost always relate back to his personal thoughts or feelings.

To describe his work, the composition was solid, concrete bricks, made by hand. Each brick that he made also had a glass figurine sunken/floating in it. Besides the actual objects, the scenery actually had a huge impact on his works aesthetic as well. The bricks were placed in some sort of “L” shape along the front left of the room. The lighting was set very dim, with almost all lights entirely turned off and two turned on with a cloth wrapped around it to soften up the direct light. As you walk in, you hear these wind chimes being blown in the wind. Joshua said he added this effect to give the scenery a dream like state, very nostalgic. The soft noise was meant to contrast the very dark and heavy material, the concrete. His artwork began around the time of the inauguration of President Donald Trump. Joshua feels as though it is an artists job to be political because art itself is political. When asked about the purpose of the “L” shape of his bricks, he said that he did this to intrigue the audience. “It’s interesting to see how certain people will maneuver themselves around the objects, will hey walk behind them, will they just stand in one place, too nervous to move, will they step over them? it was like a test of how people will react.” As far as political involvement goes, it was practically a coincidence that his work formed a wall, which some would easily relate to Donald Trump in today’s pop-culture, it’s almost like a trigger word.

After taking time to look at Joshua’s work myself and use his words to understand his point of view more, I had a deeper understanding. My personal perception was of a  graveyard. The concrete bricks and the way they were lined up resembled tombstones in a graveyard. The figurines inside could have easily resembled headlines for those who may have passed. I felt as though the figurines, since they are so childish, could have captured the death of his childhood and transition into adulthood. Many people associate the transition into college from grade school to be a huge step in someone’s life, almost like their coming of age, and that’s what his work said to me.


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