Emerging Ceramic Artist to Watch: Joseph Page, Walla Walla, Washington

Flow Chart, dimensions variable,
porcelain, polystyrene foam,
paint, hardware 2008.

Containment Cloud II, 22 in.
(56 cm) in length, porcelain
and polystyren
e foam, 2007.



My primary concern is to immerse the viewer in a place of both comfort and uncertainty. While the appearance of the work comes from the realm of fantasy and early video games, my conceptual approach looks for ways to function under strict sculptural parameters, much in the same way those early video game programmers navigated the visual and technological limitations of their time. I’m challenged by the premise of presenting a simplistic, sugary and absurd scenario as both a sophisticated and fantastical environment. The work is the product of a calculated system, an undercurrent suggesting that all is not what it first appears to be. The intent is not to be cynical about notions of escape and fantasy, but instead acknowledges their importance and limitations.

Early video games were created with a basic level of technology. There was an extremely limited color palette and an inability to render recognizable shapes. . . . The small number of pixels and colors meant that a number of simple repeated elements would tend to make up these worlds, but the objects and characters they represented would change based upon the context, combination, timing and direction in which they appeared.

Similarly, I find myself interested in what happens when everything in an environment passes through the lens of a simple form, like the bubble. There is an important relationship between the economy of a simple form and a need for complex logic and order. The unyielding insistence of such a system allows the characters and locations to gain identity through repetition and contextual placement. Clouds, mountains, waterfalls, wind currents, rays of light and the growth of vegetation all fall within the same values dictated by the insistent repetition of the bubble. The playfulness in the work is tempered by the calculated rules for how the system operates. The optimism and comfort gained by such strict rules do not exist without an underlying current of skepticism; this is what drives us to keep looking.



This was excerpted from Ceramics Monthly magazine’s
“Emerging Artists 2009” feature, which appeared in the May 2009 issue.
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