We had the good fortune of connecting with Joseph Ayers and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Joseph, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Unwittingly it was a way of escaping some of the oppressive social structures that I faced growing up: systemic racism and misogyny, poverty, and lack of education. Pursuing art gave me a new language, and inspired me to raise questions about these issues. It also introduced me to a community of other artists and teachers with whom I could exchange ideas and experiences. At some point I became keenly aware that making art and teaching could help me develop a broader and deeper perspective, and refine a personal language that I could use to express and share my perceptions with others. It took me some time to fully realize it, but ultimately I chose to pursue art because I wanted to be part of this dialogue.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am really lucky that my personal art work and research are reflected in my teaching. As a multi-media artist I think a lot about appearances and perceptions, and how relationships between these two things shape everything we experience. I also think about how technology currently dictates appearances, as well as our perceptions of them. We are experiencing a dramatic shift in technology that fundamentally alters the way we perceive and experience objects, space and time. In my work I composite traditional media (drawing, painting and sculpture), new technology (Virtual and Augmented Reality), video, sound and animation, to explore both connections and disparity between the analogue and digital worlds we inhabit. Inevitably this combined-media approach leads to abstracted personal narratives that reflect on the changing landscape, as well as how technology reshapes the social landscape. As a teacher I feel most fortunate to be able to design courses that focus on these same ideas. The world is full of extremely sensitive and talented young artists eager to raise questions about the past in efforts to design a better future, and the languages that will define that future are being created by them right now. I am so lucky to be able to be part of that dialogue!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I live in the Hudson Valley nestled between the mountains and the Hudson River, 60 miles north of NYC. I’m a 5 minute walk from the world famous DIA Beacon Art Museum, and a 10 minute walk from the Metro-North train that goes directly to Grand Central in the heart of the city. And along the way there are several historic sites that would take months to explore. It’s really the best of both worlds, here. There are an abundance of hiking trails and outdoor festivals in the summer, ski slopes in the winter, and quick and easy train trips to museums, galleries and restaurants in the city anytime. There are also several interesting galleries here in Beacon, and a lot of great shops and restaurants. There has been a population boom in Beacon over the past 10 years, with creatives moving in from all over the country and world. There are so many choices for a great vacation in this area, but one place that is a must for dinner is on our back deck. My wife is also an artist, and she and I are a little competitive in the kitchen. She is Japanese and a gifted artist and cook, and I am from Gulf Coast Florida and love to spend time every day in the kitchen. We have blended our respective cuisine together over time, and call our place the Ayers-Uekawa Cafe. It’s usually a hit on any visitor’s tour of the area!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The path we take depends just as much on the obstacles we encounter, as it does the people who helped us along the way. I tend to recognize both as critical elements for success. But certainly I could not have been successful without the love, support and encouragement from family, friends, teachers, students and colleagues. There is not enough room here to name them all, and it would not suffice to just name a few, but I am truly grateful to everyone, and if I know you this shoutout is for you!
Nominate Someone: ShoutoutMiami is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.