Pamela Joseph is a multi-media artist who addresses ideas of feminist critique and socio-political issues with a sense of humor and incisiveness. Her work was described as "well-executed, powerful and edgy" by the Colorado Council on the Arts, who awarded her a Visual Arts Fellowship in 2001. She was subsequently selected as a Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome in 2003 and 2004. Francis M. Naumann Fine Arts in New York represented Joseph from 2007 until the gallery's closing in 2019.
Joseph has exhibited nationally and internationally in locations including New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Barcelona, and Beijing. Her work is in the collections of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne, Indiana; Colorado University Art Museum, Boulder; the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; the National Art Museum of China, Beijing; the School of Art and Design at Alfred University, Alfred, New York; and Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut; among others.
In 2019, Joseph began creating her current work, "Radical Beauty: Masks, Veils & Headgear." This series explores the positive power and celebration of the carnival in our lives. The mixed media sculptures are constructed with layers of plexiglas forms combining painting, drawing transfers, sleek vibrant colors, and mirror surfaces. They honor the strength of women and their resilience and beauty as radical thought. By putting on a mask and becoming someone else, we enter an alternate world experimenting with concepts of power, identity, and gender. An exhibition of this series will open September 21, 2021, in Denver at the Michael Warren Contemporary.
From 2012 to 2015, Joseph interrogated the art and politics of nudes through a series entitled "Censored." Stunned by the censorship of nudity in Iranian art books, where all nudity—including in masterpieces by Picasso, Duchamp and Matisse—is covered with black lines or digital pixelation, she recreated the originals and self-censored her own works. Images from "Censored" are included in The Artist, the Censor and the Nude: A Tale of Morality and Appropriation (DoppelHouse Press, 2017). Author and art historian Glenn Harcourt discusses Joseph's depiction of censored masterworks and sheds light on contemporary Iranian artists and their struggles to create.
In 1998 Joseph began her large-scale interactive multi-media contemporary carnival "The Sideshow of the Absurd." With more than two dozen complex pieces including "The Torture Museum" and "Alien Fortuneteller," the show is about the power of women, fate, and chance in our lives, and the violence behind facades. The exhibit, which premiered at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art in 2001, challenges our notions of difference and tolerance. "The Sideshow" traveled to more than 10 locations throughout the country and was most recently on exhibit at the Colorado Springs Arts Center. Other venues include the MAC in Dallas, Texas; the Cultural Center of Hollywood, Florida; the Erie Art Museum in Erie, Pennsylvania; and the University of New Mexico Art Museum in Albuquerque. A short film, “Pamela Joseph’s The Sideshow of the Absurd'' by Tina DiFeliciantonio and Jane C. Wagner, premiered at the Aspen Film Festival in 2015 and was shown at film festivals worldwide. It won Best Short at the Williamsburg Indie Film Festival, the Atlanta Shortsfest Gold Award, and Best Animated Short at the Santa Fe Film Festival. (The film is available to stream on YouTube.)
Early in her career, Joseph was deeply involved in public art with large-scale metal paintings and sculptural installations. Influenced by the Finish Fetish School originating in Los Angeles, she airbrushed lacquers and urethane onto large aluminum formations and panels that wrapped around buildings or grew out of the ground. The imagery was derived from a detailed observation of minerals and crystals. The durability of the materials used in the sculptures enabled her to bring art out of the museum and into the daily lives of people. Among the commissions she was awarded are the elevator lobby for the San Jose Federal Courthouse through the General Services Administration, the entry doors for the Hungarian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and a sculpture for Allied Services for the Handicapped in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Joseph was born in New Haven, Connecticut, and maintained a studio in New York for many years. For the past 30 years, she has lived and worked in Aspen, Colorado, sharing a studio with her partner of 27 years, artist Robert Brinker.