Joseph Hubbard was born in Illinois in 1945 and acquired Canadian citizenship in 1974. The artist obtained an M.A., B.F.A. and a B.A in art history from the University of Illinois. He has taught at secondary & tertiary levels in the US and Canada. Hubbard was seconded by the Ontario Government as an advisor on provincial art curricula and served as artists' representative on the Board of Directors of Museum London. He has worked as president of Canadian Artists Representation (C.A.R.) at the Forest City Gallery, London (Canada).
The artist's practice utilizes extremely diverse mixed media technologies. These include metals, fiberglass, wood, ceramics, photography, plastics, vacuum forming, photography video, and bricolage, or found technological detritus.
These darkly humoured, acerbic cultural insights are influenced by diverse expressions in non-western cultures. Over three decades Joseph Hubbard has revisited the same dozen themes in series, gradually refining each successive interpretation. But the consistent subject of the work is social criticism and re-examination of our contemporary values.
The work frequently engages opposites: banality and sophistication, comedy and tragedy, surface realism and abstraction. These complexities, although arcane, do not render the work impenetrable. The realism that has at least one obvious interpretation is largely a hook to engage the viewer. Wit or black humour is intended to produce nervous laughter, which I regard as a kind of entropic verbalization, as valid as analytical insight. The work is often part of a continuing series, which are explored over a period of several years. The meanings are multi-layered from the obvious to the ambiguous. In works from The Elephant Is the Room, the process of art-making itself, including "collaborations with dead artists" and museum "interventions", archiving and exhibiting, became the subjects.
Craftsmanship in the work is not intended to be a technical tour-de- force but rather to build on ambiguities suggested by the media themselves. The irony is that the mimicry possible in different materials actually subverts reality. Some pieces use lights and/or sound as a "material" that satirizes by appropriating and stylizing only a snippet of experience. Objects are recreated in unexpected materials as a way of challenging perceptions about the role of the art object, and the existence of the source object. (re: museum track light dimmers cast in bronze) These works often occupy relatively small, intimate spaces in which they can be contemplated closely. In spite of all the concerns present in the work, I see no reason that the work cannot function simultaneously as visual poetry with an elegant, if yet critical and disturbing presence.
Artists who have influenced me or whom I admire include Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Beuys, Bruce Nauman, Ed Ruscha, Wm. T. Wylie,H. C. Westermann, Wym Delvoye, Robert Gober, and Dieter Roth.
Photo credit: John Tamblyn