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Friday, February 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Washington Voices

Spokane art exhibit explores where people take root

It is common knowledge that if you follow a map, figuratively or literally, you’ll get where you need to go.

Sure there are bumps and adventures along the way, but home is where everything leads Like Dorothy said, there’s no place like home.

“Everyone has a connection to place,” said artist Ben Joyce. On his website, he explained it simply. “Emotions, religions, occupations are what define us as human; place is what gives us our being.”

Joyce, 33, creates abstract topophilias, described by the artist as “the affective bond between people and place” or “the love of place.”

It began in 2002 as Joyce gazed upward in a home he lived in prior to moving to the Downriver area of Spokane. Noticing where the walls met the ceiling, Joyce took note on how the space, not square due to jutted sections, looked like a map and so his unique ongoing series began: representations of regions of the earth on which we live.

While his earlier works were traditional landscapes, his abstract topophilias are just an extension of that – another way to create a landscape with a much higher view.

Born and raised in California, Joyce and his seven siblings all attended Gonzaga University and studied abroad in the college’s Gonzaga-in-Florence program. Joyce’s emphasis was in sculpture and painting.

Joyce graduated from Gonzaga in 2001 and, after a few bumps and adventures, set up shop in a basement studio at 154 S. Madison St. There, with his brother Jason Joyce acting as an assistant and manager, he uses an array of saws to manipulate wood on which he builds layers of more wood, acrylics, oils and gels until the final product has elements that trick the eye into seeing metal, glass or ceramic where there is only wood. Sharp edges and cutouts leave no room for containment so the pieces are not traditionally framed; rather, they breathe and give life to the space they occupy.

Since unveiling his abstract topophilias in 2006 in a downtown space that has since closed, Joyce has put himself on the map so to speak. His long list of clients include celebrities and CEOs, including the creator of Google Earth and a man who will be installing two pieces by Joyce into the interior of his private Boeing 747. Last March, Joyce was the top seller at a show in New York, and next year Joyce will have a six-month exhibit at Google Earth headquarters in San Francisco.

A husband and father of three young children, Joyce said there is always a reason for what he paints. His newest series of roots that he will share alongside a variety of newer work at Barrister Winery in October came about as his middle daughter, who is diagnosed with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, was being cared for in a hospital setting.

“As I watched the professionals around her, I saw her as so much more than the syndrome. Like the trunk of a tree, there are hundreds of roots, a life force hidden but so strong, so connected.”

To Joyce, it’s all about the connection to place and to life itself.

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