Joe Hadden is a Drawer, Painter, and Printmaker who uses alchemical procedures to create immersive and interactive abstract geological environments. He spent his formative years in Indianapolis, Indiana. He received his BFA at Ball State University in Muncie, IN and is now pursuing his MFA at Georgia State University. He recently received the Kathleen G. Williams Award of Excellence and has exhibited work at the Monmouth Museum, Thomas Deans Fine Art Gallery, and the Garfield Park Conservatory.
Interviewed by Ceallsach Crouch
Q: Your work recalls perceptions of cave space and geological environments. Can you speak more on the idea of immersive, interactive space in relation to your art?
A: Land surface and immersive environments have the ability to create deep space or deep nature. 452B is the title I gave an immersive and interactive abstract geological installation that took the shape of a cave and had engulfed my studio for the past two years. Living and working in the cave space taught me that an immersive and interactive environment produces individually unique and thought-provoking experiences where the viewer is both an integral component of the piece, as well as a foreign sightseeing entity, removed from the known world and placed in a bizarre supplemental offshoot. The subsequent paintings then become re-enactments of forces, impressions or events that occur within the abstract geological environment while creating a new atmosphere or habitat that awaits exploration, invites immersion, and tempts interaction.
Q: Artistic process is essential to your final outcome. Can you give us an insight on what this process is like?
A: Conducted experiments catalyzing material processes into concrete forms make up the artifacts of my artistic practice. Through alchemical procedures I gain knowledge relating to the chemistry, biology and physics of a wide range of art materials, household ingredients and toxic chemicals. I hope to always be surprised by my work and by the reactions occurring within a piece. These surprises take many forms, some of which include: changes in color or viscosity, emerging textures or pockets of corrosion, glowing phosphorescence and growing crystalline forms. Thankfully, there are still countless reactions unbeknownst to me. Like an alchemist’s aim to achieve the Philosopher’s Stone by turning base metal to gold, I aim to achieve a painting capable of immersion into environments that evoke a desire for interaction and exploration. These paintings are achieved by testing the limits of multiple mixed mediums through experimental material processes. My studio has become a laboratory, a workshop, a testing ground, a museum, a home, and a foreign environment, but perhaps most importantly it is a place of imaginary solutions and motivating surprises.
Q: You have also said that memory studies are very significant to you. How do you emphasize memory in your art? Why is it so important?
A: Attending to visual memory traces of a painting or installation that is no longer present is how I attempt to recapture the forces of previous abstract atmospheres within new works. Capturing the same impressions is nearly impossible as these recollections are riddled with misinformation, due to the faultiness of auditory attention and visual memory stores. These faults in memory translate to new impressions in the paintings and, in turn, create new and exciting environments that can be misremembered and reimagined indefinitely. The unfamiliar and ever-changing immersive environments that make up my work highlight both what is retained and what is lost in our visual and auditory memory.
Ceallsach Crouch received her BA in Art History at Columbus State University. She is a 1st-year graduate MA Art History candidate at GSU with a concentration in Medieval Manuscripts.