Joshua’s work travels between sculpture, installation, function, utility, and ideas in the public sphere, land, and site-based practice. Joshua chooses to work close to the land, with materials, constructive processes, and physical experiences. His work seeks a better understanding of the shared planet and perception of our bodies in it. Joshua’s studio focus begins with awareness to space and place, through experiments with physical materials, topography, environment, and human impact on the land.
Joshua Ray Smith was born on a small cattle ranch in Wyoming. His first experiences of space were endless horizons, open sky, and the high dessert plains of the Rocky Mountains. Isolation, harsh landscape, haptic ranch labor, and the sense of place from the spatial perception of horse, saddle, horizon, and sun, have all been formative in Joshua’s inspiration, research, identity, and work.
Joshua received his MFA From Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2005. He served as Assistant Professor of Art at Concordia University in Ann Arbor in 2005-2007. He was lecturer for the University of Michigan School of Art and Design from 2007-2010. He served as Assistant Professor of Art at Concordia University Nebraska 2013-2016. Smith currently operates an independent public art and studio practice, located on combined sites in Wyoming and Nebraska.
Joshua’s work has been exhibited nationally. He has work and furniture in several private collections. He has outdoor sculpture in the permanent collection of the Nicolaysen Art Museum in Casper Wyoming, and sculpture placed in Michigan Legacy Art Park near Traverse City, Michigan. In 2015, Joshua installed a large-scale public memorial sculpture, for the Heartfelt Inc. Children’s Memorial Garden in Seward Nebraska.
My research begins on the trail, backpack as weight and morning light as lift, hovering over an endless horizon of vast space, a wild landscape untouched, but by the sun reveling the physical arc of the planet. The art examines a forgotten simplicity: stillness, balance, physical alignments, and perception of a natural environment greater than ourselves. My work frames sightlines toward what is already and always there, setting a viewer’s perception in simple awareness of place, body, and space. A fresh perception to the microcosm of intimate location is framed by awareness to the macrocosm of a planet surrounded by a universal turning atmosphere.
I investigate metaphors between material properties and polarities. Weathered rusting steel to highly polished stainless steel; the ephemeral architecture traced in a snowdrift to the built structure that pauses the wind: I am a materialist, truth is discovered at the center of dualities. Through sculpture, installations, and public artworks, I want to confront questions of where human beings stand in relation to nature, architecture, each other, and the cosmos.
With a sensitive awareness to the impact spaces have on our perception, I work between structural design rhythms and found environments, exterior and interior. My work frames perception through the lens of entropy, environment, and location. This is Placemaking, which I define as the alchemy of combining: place, sensation, and dialogue. It is a meditation on place.
“Ones mind and the earth are in a constant state of erosion, mental rivers wear away abstract banks, brain waves undermine cliffs of thought, ideas decompose into stones of unknowing, and conceptual crystallizations break apart into deposits of gritty reason. Vast moving faculties occur in this geological miasma, and they move in the most physical way. This movement seems motionless, yet it crushes the landscape of logic under glacial reveries. This slow flowage makes one conscious of the turbidity of thinking. Slump, debris slides, avalanches all take place within the cracking limits of the brain. The entire body is pulled into the cerebral sediment, where particles and fragments make themselves known as solid consciousness. A bleached and fractured world surrounds the artist. To organize this mess of corrosion into patterns, grids, and subdivisions is an esthetic process that has scarcely been touched.”
A Sedimentation of the Mind: Earth Projects, 1968.