Joe Iurato “Bulletproof” (photo © Joe Iurato)
The work for Street Artist and fine artist Joe Iurato uses stencil as it’s central technique, and the human figure and gesture as a means of expression. For his dual show with Shai Dahan opening tomorrow at Vincent Michael Gallery in Philadelphia, Iurato expresses a turbulent time in his recent life when he battled economic insecurity, deep rooted fears, and feelings of low self-esteem. For “Salvation” the artist contemplates his relationship with his religious faith, and he questions the strength of it’s foundation and his life.
As a gift to the BSA family, Joe speaks here about his development of the theme and offers a rare insight into the intersection of faith and creativity in an artists life, and the catharsis that can take place.
Joe Iurato Installing his show “Salvation” at Vincent Michael Gallery (photo courtesy the artist)
“Salvation” addresses a personal struggle I’ve had during the past couple years. It’s a conflict that everyone, regardless of social status, will go through at least once in life. It’s about the struggle with faith and where we stand with our own beliefs. It’s easy to say “I believe in this” or “I don’t believe in that” when times are good.
After I was laid off, like probably half of the people reading this, in 2008, I watched the job market crumble and I just fell apart with it. At the time, I was sole provider of a new family at home, and I just remember feeling the greatest sense of failure I’ve ever known. Pure defeat. Regardless of what I believed or didn’t believe prior to this, I went through all sorts of soul searching. I questioned everything. I was angry at somebody, but I didn’t know who. Sometimes I’d look up and question why, and sometimes I’d look down and place the blame on myself. It’s like you don’t know exactly where or what went wrong and suddenly these crutches appear – like if you leaned on them they’d save you. Looking back on it, it’s rather desperate and borderline silly. But, there’s no denying they were there. And it left me wondering. Now, I ponder the validity of it all.
You can interpret the paintings any way you like; religious, spiritual, desperate. I’m not saying any conclusions are right or wrong. Whatever you see will probably be a testament of your own faith and where you stand with it. For me the story begins with the struggle, leaps into the arms of faith, and ultimately ends with salvation.
About the work itself: I used some new techniques and ideas, especially with the concept of supports. I used glass and shadow boxes for depth with “local” wood harvested from Amish farms in Pennsylvania. I stayed away from being exact and clean, and got a little looser with my cuts and compositions. I’m hoping this segues into something new for me on walls outside, too. The works are primarily based on photos of me, since the topic of salvation is so personal. Carrying the theme a step further, I made an installation in this show using the coat and shoes I wore while creating these pieces; the rope, some torn stencils, unused wood scraps and cuts of paper. Guess it’s my way of retiring a critical time in my life and moving forward.
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