Eye Test

I generally try to make art that brings some light into the world.  Up until this point, a lot my work has dealt with big themes, such as outer space, money, healing, religion and violence, but this new work is definitely more personal. 

In 2000, I was diagnosed with keratoconus, a weird corneal disease that causes a lot of visual distortion, especially of light.  I won’t say it hasn’t been challenging, but I will say I have been blessed with the ability to see this as an advantage as an artist, and it has totally informed my work.  When I look at light, it scatters in the most beautiful way, with the effect of creating coronas and splashes around light sources.  It really is lovely, except maybe when driving at night.  As time has passed, light and color have become the main preoccupations behind my work.  I have created installations and sculptures that allow the random effects of light to become a component in the work.  The paintings I make are also an exploration of the physiological effect of color on the eye.

This new series of paintings is called Eye Test.

joseph eyetest01.jpg

Eye Test refers to a few things—from the formal to the personal.  Pigments selectively absorb and reflect different wavelengths of light.  Light hitting the surface of a painting is reflected back minus different wavelengths which produces the appearance of different colors.  These paintings play with slight variations of color, and so create a very subtle dance in the eye, as the varying wavelengths interact with the photoreceptors in the retina.  So basically, it’s a micro workout for your eyes.  And color is nourishing on some other really deep levels as well.  A healthy cornea is nice and round, and an unhealthy one is more of a random shape.  Until now, I have been making paintings that have mostly employed pure geometric forms, but in this series I’m using more organic shapes, which reflect what my cornea actually looks like and the shapes I see around light sources.   Eye Test also refers to the fact that making this work literally tests my eyes.


Jennifer Joseph

May 2012