Today we’d like to introduce you to Joshua Enck.
Joshua, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I came to sculpture by way of architecture and furniture design. As an architecture student, I was inspired by structures like grain elevators, barns, and bridges created by anonymous artisans because they balance beauty, craftsmanship, and utilitarianism. After architecture school, I wanted to learn how to make things, not just design them. I did an MFA in furniture design to learn advanced woodworking and metalworking techniques to make human-scaled forms. Since then my work has gotten more and more abstract. Today, my sculpture doesn’t directly reference vernacular architecture or specific furniture forms, but I use the skills and sensibilities of traditional craftsmanship to realize my complex and quirky artistic vision.
Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I create animated abstractions, lyrical yet succinct forms that surprise viewers with complex geometries and jaunty stances. My sculptures capture the tension between the spontaneity of the imagination and the restraint of meticulous craftsmanship. For me, sculpture is problem-solving: engagement with the material world and the resistance and affordances it provides. I enter the studio with sketches but no preconceived solutions; rather, I embrace the unforeseen possibilities that arise when building by hand. My sculptures thus embrace a raw, awkward sensibility that emerges through their making. I complement my intuitive form-making process with great attention to detail. I employ labor-intensive metal fabrication and woodworking techniques to realize challenging compound-complex curves, angular geometries, and the intersection of disparate volumes. I continually experiment with materials and techniques to express new possibilities, creating an eclectic oeuvre united by my engagement with formal abstraction.
What would you recommend to an artist new to the city, or to art, in terms of meeting and connecting with other artists and creatives?
I have worked in group art studios in the past, but I currently work alone in my studio. I enjoy the intense focus a solo studio provides, but I do miss the energy of a group studio environment. In order to keep professional connections open, I use Instagram to see what colleagues are doing in their studios and to tell the story of my practice. In the past, I have both taught and taken classes at art schools such as the Penland School of Crafts and the Anderson Ranch Arts Center. This is a great way to learn a new art making skill or pass that knowledge on to another artist. The other thing that I do to keep my studio practice invigorated is to teach on the University level. I have taught foundation studies, drawing, woodworking, and metalworking over the course of thirteen years at the Rhode Island School of Design, Williams College, the University of Illinois, and the University of Rochester. I find that teaching both informs my studio practice and challenges me to be a better artist.
What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I design and build one-of-a-kind sculptures for public and private clients. I work with designers and architects to make artwork for specific installations, indoors and outdoors. Making art is both my passion and my profession, so I am also constantly building speculative sculptures that I hope people will connect with and bring into their lives. I am currently represented by Soderbergh Gallery in Wellfleet, Massachusetts and Simon Gallery in Morristown, New Jersey. The most comprehensive way to see the breadth of my artwork is by visiting my website and my Instagram account. I love to hear from people who are interested in my work.
My abstract sculptures are included in many private collections throughout the country, but two of my favorite publicly accessible sculptures are on public view within short drives from Boston. My sculptural metal and wood bench, Oxide Turnout, won a public art competition and is on display in Westport, Massachusetts. My first art museum commission, an abstract wood sculpture entitled Pirouette, can be seen at the University of Maine Museum of Art in Bangor, Maine.
All images: Joshua Enck, 2018