I first met Joe at NIU when we were both art students. He was in the painting graduate program and I bounced around between printmaking, painting and drawing, as most undergrads do. I’ve always liked his exploration of media and the action-reaction dynamic you can see throughout each piece. I appreciate the process-oriented quality of his work because, as a viewer, it allows me to imagine what happens in the studio and maybe even in his mind.
Dustan and I met at the “Nostalgia” opening (Curated by Dan Estep) earlier this year. We briefly talked about his work and his upbringing. During his studio visit, we discussed his artwork and his experience working in a steel factory back in his home town of Harlan County, Kentucky. One of the biggest misinterpretations about his work is that it is “Southern” because it speaks about the hard working class of the steel and coal industry. We should be able to relate to it instead of giving it a sense of otherness. Illinois is filled with people who work in factories of all sorts. Even Chicago has a huge industrial history. I believe Dustan’s work pays homage to a blue collar America we like to pretend exists outside our periphery. We live in the Midwest and should pay more attention to our surroundings and the people who provide some of the things we take for granted.
Hope you can make it!