Nov 30 '21
Q&A with Joe Henry Baker
We’re excited to host Joe Henry Baker at the Saturdays Flagship Store for his solo exhibition " A Different Kind of Light". On view September 30th to November 30th at 31 Crosby Street. We sat down with Joe to learn a bit more about his process.
images by Joanna Halpin, Talley Carlston & Miles Jay
Saturdays NYC: When did you first start painting and how did it come about?
Joe Henry Baker: I’ve painted all my life, but it started as mainly classical oil portraits or pastel landscapes, very traditional. At art school I discovered graphic design, which led me to New York and some incredible projects and experiences, but I was always making something physical, be it a painting or a piece of furniture. The more I worked on the computer, the more I needed that tangible experience. After a rather stressful period at work, I rented a small studio in Chinatown and started dedicating my evenings and days off to making art that was really the opposite of the logos and typefaces I was crafting - to engage with another side of the brain and be free in doing so. Over the last four years and multiple studios, and a design background to set up the foundations of a business, I was able to make the art my sole priority, and I’ve never been happier.
Saturdays NYC: What Inspires you?
Joe Henry Baker: Meeting people is so inspiring, and I try and host as many studio visits a week as I can - a fresh set of eyes can inject new energy and meaning into your work. My work is really built around materials and play, trial and error, and I’m most inspired by the days where I can try new techniques and mediums that I’ve either read about or just imagined, make mistakes and discover new styles and applications, and spending a lot of money at Lowes. But as much as I enjoy being in the studio, I love to travel, and that distance and experience again delivers a new perspective.
Saturdays NYC:Do you have a favorite piece in the show?
Joe Henry Baker: The centre piece, ‘A Different Kind Of Light’, is a personal favorite here. The depth of color and the movement is really hypnotic. But I am so happy that all the works are very different, making each viewing experience unique.
Saturdays NYC: Any new mediums you'd like to take up?
Joe Henry Baker: I recently started playing with insulation board as a canvas, which holds paint in a really interesting way and also has a sculptural element to it - I’d love to explore this more. I’m keen to explore more woodworking and furniture, maybe incorporated with a painting element. And with a lot more space, and ventilation, stone carving…
Saturdays NYC: Fast forward 10 years. Do you see your work looking very similar or very different?
Joe Henry Baker: I think no matter what medium you try, be it film, sculpture, painting - there will always be a recognizable hand to it. I would never want to limit myself to try and ensure a style. Every day is an evolution of the practice, and I’m just so excited to get to work.
Saturdays NYC: What do you like to do on Saturdays?
Joe Henry Baker: I like to try and still a very busy brain and run or cycle, read, cook with my girlfiend, camp, wrestle a dog. I know all these things bring me joy and calm, so I try to put down the work and be present in these.