“It’s the curiosity and the unknowing that drives the work.”
Life’s most impenetrable mysteries — death, love, purpose — often remain intangible aspects of human experience. Art seems to be the closest we’ve come to deciphering these abstractions. Joshua Baptista’s mixed-media creations delve into the human experience, exploring life’s greatest obsessions with tenacity and vibrancy.
When did you know you were an artist?
In kindergarten. My teacher, Dr. Fulsom, thought I had some potential and encouraged my parents to send me somewhere for art lessons. My parents have always played an amazingly supportive role in my art. My mother asked me if I would be interested in taking classes. I responded, “Art is something you already know and cannot be taught.” I still believe in that statement today. You can be taught composition and draftsmanship, but not how to be an artist. A friend once said art is what you do with your life.
Is there a message that you want people to get when they look at your work?
I don’t want to tell people what to think with my work. I feel that there is enough white noise out there. I don’t expect people to have the same relationship with the work that I do I guess.
Looking at your work, the concept of life, death, and human experience seems to infiltrate quite a few images. Am I correct in that observation?
Yes, death follows me and I don’t like it: but I try to embrace it.
What types of materials do you use in your image-making?
Whatever is around me at the time.
What inspires you in your art?
People and landscapes. People are just amazing in general; you never know what they will do next. No strangers in my work. I usually pull from personal experiences with friends and family. I do feel a strong connection with my surroundings and I think that is because it’s always changing.
Who inspires you in your art?
My colleagues, Igor Pasternak and Bonner Sale. I also look at all the contemporaries.
How old are you? How old do you feel?
32, and I guess I feel 16. My art keeps me young. Making drawings or just in general “making” is one of the first things we learn to do. Most people stop for some reason or another. I never did.
To be honest I can’t really explain my perspective on life or death. I guess I really don’t understand it. I feel if I could explain it, I wouldn’t be as interested in exploring it. It’s the curiosity and the unknowing that drives the work.
You can find more of Joshua’s work on his website, or in person at the Rochester Museum of Fine Arts, Rochester, NH, beginning October 6 until November.
by Megan McCormick