Artist: Joshua Tomokazu Thomen
Exhibition: Still Here
Media: Sculpture, cement, glass figurines
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Dutzi
Joshua Tomokazu Thomen is a third year undergrad studentin the CSULB College of the Arts. He is currently an Art Major applying for the Bachelor of Fine Arts program in sculpting. He is interested in incorporating outside materials into his sculptures. His work presented in the exhibition, “Still Here” was a “sculpture show” that explored Thomen’s connection with ceramic figurines, his art techniques, and his views on the political crisis in our country.
The work was displayed in a dimly lit gallery where the sound of wind chimes created a soft, dream-like contrast in comparison to the hard crafted art. The windows of the gallery were covered in black material which separated outside from the art work. The exhibition was created out of 12 cement blocks that were laid in a specific pattern across the floor. Encased in the cement blocks were unique ceramic figurines that Thomen had bought at antique stores. The space behind the line of blocks was left empty and ominous.
When talking to Joshua Tomokazu Thomen he informed me that his process began during the inauguration as his artistic response to the political crisis in the United States. He described how the “nature of material” he used suggests gender; the cement represents males, and the ceramic figurines represent females. Thomen also informed me about how his placement of the cement blocks was his way of controlling the way the viewer moved through the space. He also implied that the cement blocks, even in their small scale, created a wall. This wall image relates both literally and metaphorically to his political stance.
When viewing Thomen’s work I took note of the other people in the room and watched how the placement of the cement blocks manipulated the way they moved through the space. It is very intriguing how the small barrier affected the choices and pathway of the people viewing it. I was fascinated with the symbolism Thomen was able to create with the placement of his art in a space, and how that represented the kind of barrier he feels within the political system. I did not ask him about the title of his exhibition, but to me it is a statement suggesting that even though our country is in a political crisis and the majority of people is misrepresented, we are “Still Here.”