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Meet Joseph Podlesnik in Northwest Phoenix

Today we’d like to introduce you to Joseph Podlesnik.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
All through my early years I drew, then played with a 8mm movie camera; movies had had an effect on me. In eighth grade Catholic school, I read the book “The Exorcist”, then saw the movie. In response, my friend and I created a mini-haunted house in his home — I wanted to see the effect it had on friends. In high school, I made my own animation flip-books. Art historian E.H. Gombrich once said that science has to do with causes while art has to do with effects. I’ve always been interested in effects, the effects which images have on us (i.e., visual communication).

In my senior year of high school, I won a recognition award for commercial art, but had no plans for college. After graduating high school, while working for an industrial maintenance company, I fell fifty feet from a crane, sustaining several injuries – an event which seems to have changed the direction of my life. During rehabilitation I bought a 35mm film camera, then decided to begin my undergraduate education as a film (cinema) major.

After one year of film studies, I switched my major to drawing and painting and built up a vocabulary in that field. After years of drawing mostly, painting some, and teaching at the college level, I started using photography to teach design to my students (studying design principles used by master photographers). Not long after, since moving to Phoenix, AZ (from southern New Jersey) in 2010, I re-engaged with photography and have been working at it for the last 4 to 5 years.

One of the challenges (motivations) I face with photography is striving to discover pictorials ways to make photographs have effects on viewers, to try to continue surprising myself with the medium.

Please tell us about your art. What do you do / make / create? How? Why? What’s the message or inspiration, what do you hope people take away from it? What should we know about your artwork?For the last 4 to 5 years, I’ve been working steadily at digital photography. I take and make photographs of various subjects: obscured self-portraits, urban settings, architectural motifs, abstract-reflection images.

After constructing images through drawing and painting for many years, I’m finding that photography, at least the documentary way in which I practice it, allows me to side-step insurmountable Cezanne-ian/Giacometti-ian problems of ‘depictive construction’ –  so that I can make some degree of progress and get back to pictorial problems and making pictures.

My “how” is I try to look for what I think to be engaging images (I ask myself questions of the images – design questions, sometimes questions about meaning, questions about whether the form or composition in the photographs support the ‘content’ in the image, etc. I’m always throwing questions at my photographs and my best work manages to survive some of the questions.

I’m not sure about my “why” – perhaps it has to do with a curiosity about communicative “effects” on others and myself. I like to think that if the images I make move me, inspire me, have complex, compelling messages, perhaps they’ll have the same effect on other viewers. Viewers should know that I take a lot of photographs, often not knowing quite what I’m after, until I see the image in front of me later.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
Of course there is my website, which is in dire need of updating –   . My most up-to-date work can be seen on Facebook – I’m also on Instagram. I will be exhibiting 21 of my photographs at Stockton University from January to March, 2019, after which I will be showing the same work at the Noyes Museum in New Jersey, from April to July 2019. Viewers can support my work by purchasing copies of my 4 photobooks, found here:


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