Josh Hirt is an independent visual artist that works in mixed media, namely enamel paint, macrophotography, wood, and metal. His work is contemporary and typically utilizes abstract imagery, while his steel frames lend an industrial feel. The abstract images, made from Josh’s appreciation of decaying architecture, are heavily influenced by his upbringing as a builder and as a traveler. Josh could see the artistic beauty of things forgotten, but was unsure how to translate this into a body of work. This deep appreciation led to passion, which led to exploration, and eventually with the combination of his years of experience as an artist and builder, into mixed media.
Josh is originally from Gainesville, Florida, where he spent many humid summers as a builder with his father creating custom boat houses and homes and eventually his own. Following in his parent’s footsteps, Josh simultaneously led a career spanning over 20 years as an artist of several different mediums, including fiber jewelry, wood furniture, and glass art. In the last 10 years, Josh’s direction would be focused on the venture of photography. He had finally found his oeuvre, a way of combining his years of industrial experience and motivation for artistic expression. Further experimentation and development led Josh to his own unique approach to macrophotography.
As Josh discovered, rust and peeling paint might seem like a nuisance to most owners, but to him it revealed something else. Imagine an abandoned 1953, 5-window, rusted pickup truck on the side of the road. From years of sun exposure, rain, dirt and other natural elements, this truck is no longer what it used to be, it has changed. Integrally, it is still a truck, but elements have altered the exterior. Multiple layers of paint, down to the primer, are exposed and a deep orange rust creates sinuous cracks and valleys all over its body. For that reason, Josh refers to his subjects as “unpaintings” because slowly, over time their finished exterior is weathered away revealing vibrant colors and striking undertones. He has learned to capture his subject closely, utilizing a full-frame camera and macro lens. Using dye sublimation he is then able to process the image. From here the image is then heat transferred onto metal and is ready for framing and mounting. Other times, Josh uses enamel paint to recreate his findings.
Josh then begins a process of several nontraditional techniques to mount and frame his pieces. No two are exactly alike for the simple reason that most of Josh’s materials are repurposed and each frame is handmade from scratch. Depending on the subject of the image, he begins his work using metal, aluminium, steel, wood, patina and enamel paint. With the use of grinding, welding, overlaying, hammering, rusting, pouring, dripping or including natural pigments and physical differences in his materials, Josh obtains more depth and complexity in his work. To compliment textures from within the image, he can polish or distress the metal for a clean, modern look, or hand-rust for a warmer richness and truly unique aesthetic. His goal with each piece is to manipulate material, colour and composition, as it is his perpetual challenge to bring beauty out of decay.
“What matters to me is seeking out and presenting unique relics in a way that not only tells their story, but shows them in a new light and in their current state of glory.” Through colors, textures, and materials, Josh expresses his desire to see the beauty that’s all around us. They are imprints of the past, achieved only through patience and time. What was once forgotten, is a profound gift of signature art and symbolism that, to Josh, is worthy of celebration.