Joy is frequently understood as the fulfillment of desires which are considered essential to one’s own flourishing. Joy involves an existential and personally salient experience that is significant enough to produce a powerful emotional response. Joy serves critical evolutionary functions such as its role in forming bonds between infants and parents, and in intimate romantic relationships. The experience of joy is a fundamental response to human possibility.
Why then, do we so readily dismiss joy as the “emotion of luxury”? And why do our respective experiences of joy often feel inappropriate in a world that both suffers without it and needs it so significantly?
Perhaps joy’s credibility has been eroded in Western cultures, particularly in America, because we’ve been inundated by myths that joy is an ultimate destination arrived at by following a few simple programs (cooking, signing, working, not working, motherhood, or sex — referencing just some of the popular book titles of the past few decades). “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” continue to be the most important value-directed goals by which many guide their lives. Not achieving these goals or failing to appear even inauthentically happy much of the time can give cause for concern. With pressures to maximize happiness and minimize sadness we fear that our attainment of happiness and potentially joy is continually out of reach. This creates a culture addicted to happiness and its pursuit, wherein only the privileged have unlimited access to it.
JOYSOME looks beyond superficial prescriptions for the perfect life and welcomes all of our divergent experiences and interpretations of what joy is to us. JOYSOME reflects upon the subjective worlds of this emotion, upon its unique timings and subsets, and upon joy’s crucial functions in human existence.
JOYSOME consists of fifty images selected from hundreds of responses to a call for work on the theme of joy. Submitted by artists and non-artists alike, the works in this exhibit span a range of disciplines and affective registers associated with joy— Ecstasy, Transcendence, Sadness, The Fear of Joy, Anger, Mania, Euphoria, Toxic Positivity, The American Dream, The Pursuit of Happiness, Masochism, Selflessness, Success, Sacrifice, Divination, Cuteness, The Sublime, Altruism, and Peace. The selected images are printed on flags and exhibited between Dairy Arts Center and East Window.
– Todd Edward Herman
Images Courtesy of Dona Laurita Photography
Tyler Alpern, Cyndy Beardsley, Nancy Bratton, Tracy Burke, Marie Bush, Gloria Campbell, Jaina Cipriano, Karen Cooper Paintings, Jeannie DeMarinis, Cagla Demirbas, Leah Diament, Sheri Earnhart, Jennifer Evans, Lares Feliciano, Matthew Finley, Charis Fleshner, Suzanne Frazier, Gregg Gibson, Jamie Gordon, Emerson Green, Kevin Hoth, Jennifer Jackowitz, Katie Kindle, Jeanne Kipke, Beth Krensky, Photo Credit: Josh Blumental, Chanyu Kuo, Matt Lancaster, Jade Lascelles, Dave Levingston, James Long, Stuart T. Loughridge, InsideTheRobot, DaNice D Marshall, Jessica St.John Marshall, Janice McCullagh, Andi Newberry, Lennette Newell, Khanjan Purohit, Lou Patrou, Anil Purohit, Bryn Robertson, Heather Schulte, Anne Marie Shopp, T.M. Spring, Vera Sprunt, Bobby Storts, Trevor Traynor, Carlos D. Valcarcel, Sherry Wiggins and Luis Filipe Branco, Wehaverealize
Flags located along East facing garage doors
Flags located on South facing overhang
Flags suspended from East front entrance overhang
Charlo is a multimedia artist and designer who strives for one thing: joy. Using symbols, letters and lines, his monochromatic two-dimensional works are a space for exploration and discovery. Hidden themes and messages reside in the densely packed compositions, allowing viewers to impart their own sense of meaning from the works, or be delighted by the meanings provided by the artist. The interwoven shapes, words and symbols foster a sense of community interaction, collaboration, and hopeful optimism. Having emigrated from Monterrey, Mexico in 2013, the Denver-based artist describes himself as filled to the brim with gratitude. In his native language of Spanish, the equivalent for “experiencing joy” is “alegría” and it is this experience of joy he wishes to share with the world through his works. The deceptively simple yet dense paintings and drawings are reminiscent of influential artists such as MC Escher, Keith Haring and Remedios Varo. His communal collaborations between spectator and artist began in Denver with his Make Alleys Great Again project, in which the artist appropriated the slogan of a politically divisive U.S. politician to instead bring unity and joy to communities. Using the NextDoor app, the artist connected with fellow residents of the greater Denver community who invited him to paint murals onto their garage doors. All told, the artist brought local art to more than five dozen alleyways. Since his Make Alleys Great Again project, the artist has continued to make a name for himself. In 2021, he produced a live mural entitled The Joy of Being Together in partnership with NextDoor and the New York Stock Exchange. The artist’s joyful, optimistic, and community-oriented work continues to gain interest on a national level.
Harry James Hanson
Harry James Hanson is an artist and creative director based in Brooklyn. Harry’s new photography book, Legends of Drag: Queens of a Certain Age (Abrams, 2022) is an archive of living drag history, in collaboration with Devin Antheus. Legends of Drag was the focus of a 2022 exhibition at the Museum of Wisconsin Art (Milwaukee, WI), and a second show at the Tenderloin Museum (San Francisco, CA) is planned for 2023. Harry‘s work has appeared in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, the New York Times, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, Vice, New York magazine, and The Guardian, among others. As a drag artist, Harry has performed internationally with the Bushwig festival and queer venues throughout New York City. Harry holds a dual degree with honors in Film Studies and Photography from Wesleyan University (2012).
Wheat Paste Exhibition
A small nod to Salon des Refusés, an exhibition featuring the work of artists rejected from the Parisian Salon, this collection of images exapands on JOYSOME, featuring submitted works that were not selected to be turned into flags by our guest jurors.
Featured artists (from left to right, top to bottom):