Joseph GodfreyMissoula, Montana

Red Lodge Clay Center – Short-Term Resident (ASPN) 2022

Joe Godfrey is a ceramic and mixed media artist based in Missoula, MT. Currently pursuing a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts with a concentration in ceramics at the University of Montana, Joe has previously worked as a kiln technician, a ranch hand, and a line cook. These experiences across the West have helped him create work that explores the rural/urban interface and its inherent dichotomies.

A multiplicity of materials allows Joe to explore the specificity of things in their places. Steel, clay, wood, and paper all find their way into carefully collated compositions, with each material providing its own voice to place and identity.  Being raised in Chicago, IL, has given Joe long glances into the diversity of American livelihoods, bolstered by a peripatetic lifestyle that has allowed him time in New Orleans, rural Utah, coastal California, and the Pacific Northwest, among others.  This itinerant experience at once has robbed him of a place to call home, while allowing him to ask subtle questions through the abstraction of form, and the repurposing of familiar objects. A certain recognition of not belonging to larger communities creates opportunity for Joe to engage with certain formal aspects of his work in a questioning manner.

I utilize steel, clay, wood, and paper to explore dichotomies inherent to the urban/rural interface by focusing on entropic moments. The ability of heat is enduring throughout my work, at once making vitreous a ceramic surface, while delaminating steel, and destroying wood. I have experienced both urban and rural decay that informs me aesthetically, including worn footfalls in marble stairs and the tenuously slow but unrelenting weathering of mountainsides. I have, as of late, been consumed by the overwhelming forces of nature in the West that resist the implacable flow of human entanglement with wild spaces: old homesteads being reclaimed by the forest, bear attacks on humans in urban areas, and deer eating the hard-earned products of my garden. My work seeks to provide tangible examples of these interactions between wild and settled, while utilizing abstraction to create openings to audiences that ask more questions than they answer. The unyielding beauty of soda cans tumbling softly along asphalt and plastic bags stuck on barbed wire fences shape my aesthetic notions as tangible examples of this broken human-place interchange.