Joseph Gurka is primarily known for his sculptural and installation works that take on the form of micro-environments. He creates situations for the viewer to become more aware of themselves in the space they occupy. His installations have multiple points of entry. He reveals the beauty in the various objects and materials in his works by presenting them in a manner where their perceived consciousness emanates—thus aiding the viewer in becoming present and arriving at this discovery themselves. Joseph Gurka was born in Roselle, NJ. He received his Bachelor in Fine Arts from Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA and is currently a Master of Fine Arts Candidate at Maine College of Art, Portland, ME with an expected graduation date of 2019. He has exhibited his work throughout the United States and Europe, at primarily artist run spaces such as Space Gallery, Portland, ME, for EMP Collective, Baltimore, MD, Battery Steele Peaks Island, ME, Yashar Gallery, Greenpoint, NY (Solo Show), Little Sculpture Show, Renaissance Arts Hotel, New Orleans, LA, Hennessy Youngman, Family Business, New York, NY, and Domestico, Madrid, Spain. Awards include Maine College of Art MFA Full Tuition Scholarship, Winner in the 7th ArtSlant Prize Showcase, “Connected” (2016), and Urban Glass, General Scholarship. He lives and works in Portland, Maine.
Time represents the cycle of life and could be said to mirror the human experience to some degree. I manipulate time regarding its passage. I carry some objects, such as the plastic strips from the Flavia coffee machine refills, or small gears and electronic parts from a scrap yard I worked at. I might be many years before they find their place in a sculpture or installation. I install them in new environments to assess how they might read. They operate as a personal means of time traveling through my own personal histories. These artifacts carry a consciousness with them through time in the same manner that we age with our memories. Their perceived consciousness is a result of human imprinting. The objects and materials I work with are imbued with their own histories, whether from other users, or their own life trajectories. I also imbue them with meaning by projecting my own memories upon them.
My sculptural work is linked to process and conceptual art and deals with space, time, and light. I draw inspiration from artists such as James Turrell, Tomás Saraceno, Adrián Villar Rojas, Yayoi Kusama, and Olafur Eliasson. The subject matter of my work deals primarily with the design of microenvironments. I create situations for the viewer to become more aware of their surroundings and themselves. My installations have multiple points of entry both physically and metaphorically for the viewer to investigate and develop their own narratives. I reveal the beauty in the various objects and materials I use in my works by presenting them in a manner that allows them to exude a perceived consciousness. I blend seemingly disparate matter into something new. I would like the viewer to become present and discover this for themselves.
My work is an extension of my values. Through the creation of micro-environments that allude to time and space I am instilling my work with an element of the unknown and a spiritual experience. I deal with time, space, and light in my work as well as fragility, memory, and chance. My practice is a byproduct of my actions. I am a filter that behaves as a catalyst for the materials and objects I use in my work. They magically come into this world, and at times require me to intervene on their behalf in order to redirect their trajectory. The manners in which these objects find me and undergo metamorphosis help me to feel connected to the unknown and alchemical.
I am attempting to find poetry in the objects that I choose to work with, or the objects that choose me. In relation to Actor-Network Theory or ANT, my materials as well as myself are in an infinite loop of interwoven relationships and dialogues. The objects are at times culled from my personal histories, and evoke a sense of beauty. The artifacts that I work with seem to coalesce in my absence, thus creating dialogues for the viewer to decode. I design spaces for the viewer to explore, and become more conscientious. I am creating something beautiful for my audience in order for them to hit pause amidst these crazy times, and to reflect on the human experience. I activate environments and the imagination of my audience through the use of materials culled from personal histories. I also use found objects, create sculptures, and manipulate an array of materials and objects. I translate my experience through the use of these cultural artifacts to help the viewer become more aware of space, light, and time and the unforeseen beauty that surrounds us all.