I found Josh’s work in a show at Lisa Cooley’s gallery in 2009 and purchased a piece called “Signs of Life.” I loved the colors, the textures, the human scale, and especially the rather pathetic character of the piece, communicated through knitted parts that stretched a little too tightly across the garden trellis frame and sequins that were a little too loud trailing at the bottom. “Signs of life” dangled from the sculpture in the form of green yarn bits hanging from the woven image of a sickly houseplant. Maybe I felt the piece needed looking after. I have followed Josh’s work ever since.
The first time Josh and I ever actually met, though, was on Skype. He spoke from his light-filled studio in San Francisco, and I walked him through my house, explaining the layout, something about our renovation of the space and the eccentricities of the house’s former owner, whose enthusiasm for the Arts and Crafts movement and Victoriana crept into all aspects of life, including her alarm code: 1894. The conversation meandered from Josh’s interest in color forecasting to his recent allergy test. By the time Josh came to London for a site visit, he had already homed in on a concept that neatly drew together several themes: the invention and ensuing popularity of the color mauve. Invented in the 1860s, the color mauve had achieved such notoriety by the 1890s that those years became known as the Mauve Decade.
I’m drawn to work that treads between fine and applied art, concept and craft. Josh’s work fits very well within this margin and explores the area where skill, expected of a craft such as weaving, and improvisation, intersect. I admire the way each technical choice – a crocheted growth or an expanse of dyed flat weave – does double duty as a formal element and an indicator of meaning. Josh’s crocheted pockets and pouches, for example, add a wonderful organic texture to his work, but can equally be seen as sexual, drawing attention to what’s inside as well as what’s growing on the outside. Then again, sometimes the pockets serve the purely practical purpose of holding a greeting card. There’s something very human about the work and it has to do with how Josh allows the medium to perform many functions. Even the wooden slats of his standing pieces serve both practical and poetic purposes: like stretchers of a painting, they are a support for the woven work, but like a garden trellis, they appear burdened by the overgrowth. Josh’s skill set and knowledge of how material behaves in particular conditions give the work an eloquent voice. Craft and concept are literally woven together.