By: Bailey Dodds, Seraphin Gallery Resident
Joe Mooney has spent the last thirty years attempting to understand the relationship between human emotion and tangible gesture. With his sophisticated and highly physical process of steel casting, he cultivates tantalizing visual narratives of strength, resilience, and the yearning for growth.
The composition for each unique stainless steel sculpture is formed along with a specific base. Mooney has described the relationship between these two elements as being in a “dance”, both dependent on each other for balance. The base is often quiet, formal, and geometric-- subtly noticed as the eye is entranced by the active silhouettes of conflict and reaction above. This construction is composed of multiple curved steel planes that intersect with an elegant and precise motion. Each cut sheet of metal exhibits coarse edges, as if they were individually torn and assembled back together in a fluid union. This dynamic configuration of fragments and movement conceives and recreates a moment of human expression.
In addition to the complex composition, there is an elevated level of rich texture within Mooney’s work. This fine layer of intricate detail attributes to the inclusive display of individuality. The steel sculptures are incised, welded, and then undergo a period of corrosion in which they develop an earthy copper tone. This earthy quality conveys a sense of impermanence and the natural degradation that happens organically. This rusted texture alludes to the juxtaposition of fragility and durability in this material that Mooney has chosen to manipulate.
Joe Mooney builds bodies of work based on his own recollection of narrative and personal accounts, with each series exhibiting a particular concept or movement. However all of his sculpture can visually interrelate simultaneously. The Phoenix collection uniquely represents Mooney’s style and process. The symbol of the phoenix universally expresses courage and tenacity. The phoenix is often recognized in Greek mythology for its long life and ability to be reborn through its own regenerative cycle. The mythical creature is often depicted as arising from its own ashes in majestic form. This dignified sequence has been an allegory for Mooney’s life as he was diagnosed but not defeated by cancer. In Phoenix Struggle and Phoenix the viewer is invited to look into the intimately frozen moments of Mooney’s innermost battles. The two sculptures in the series represent a period of trial and growth. From the horizontal defeated position in Phoenix Struggle to the triumphant upward mobility in Phoenix, there is a relay of powerful emotion.
The distinct physical variations that occur from sculpture to sculpture offer an abstract perspective to this emotive experience yet leave the viewer to be enveloped and to visually extract the human sentiments that are represented in life-size form.
The pieces in the Phoenix series will be soon relocated from their current residence in New York to The Reading Public Art Museum (Phoenix) and George Washington University (Phoenix Struggle). For more information about Joe Mooney’s work, please visit our website at: http://www.seraphingallery.com/gallery-artist/#/joe-mooney/