Write-up in The Seen for Joseph Cruz

Author: Dept. Staff

First Year Sculpture MFA Joseph Cruz recently received a write-up in The Seen, Chicago's International Art & Design Blog.
Read below.



A small plaque holding a moon rock, from Joseph G. Cruz, 2013, Assembling the Lunar, installation view.


Like last year, the 2013 EXPO featured booths by a number of Chicago nonprofits working in the arts and culture sector. The inclusion of these organizations highlighted Chicago’s vibrant visual arts community from a perspective interested more in a healthy arts ecology.

One of the nonprofits showing special exhibitions at this year’s fair was the Chicago Artists Coalition (CAC), which presented two booths showcasing their BOLT Residency and HATCH Projects Initiatives. Both acting essentially as residencies, the two programs are distinctive yet complementary, designed to afford artists and curators different paths to deepen their practice and engage in creative exchange. BOLT Residency is a yearlong studio residency offering up to eleven artists studio space, a solo exhibition, and one-on-one studio visits with arts professionals. HATCH Projects Initiative is an artist and curatorial residency that aims to foster shared experimentation and creativity for twenty-four emerging artists and four emerging curators.


Joseph G. Cruz, 2013, Assembling the Lunar, installation view.

Selected by Dieter Roelstraete, curatorial advisor for the exhibition and Manilow Senior Curator at the MCA Chicago, the BOLT booth exhibits resident artist Joseph G. Cruz’s “Assembling the Lunar.” The installation uses a key piece of recognizable cultural ephemera from the 1960s as a touchstone, around which is fabricated what could be a retired astronaut’s living room or office space. At the center of the installation is this piece of ephemera, an everyday household object during the time period when the nation held its breath as Armstrong took his first steps on the lunar surface. The old school amp connected to a portable suitcase turntable is situated on an Oriental rug, and appears to be spinning Pink Floyd’s iconic Dark Side of the Moon. But though the record is turning,Dark Side isn’t playing. The record is actually a sonic translation of the topography of the Farside of the moon, which has been mathematically translated into frequencies.


Joseph G. Cruz, 2013, Assembling the Lunar, installation view.


Joseph G. Cruz, 2013, Assembling the Lunar, installation view.

The record player is surrounded by what we can imagine are essential tools of the trade for the working astronaut, along with some detritus of the lifestyle—a microscope, a space blanket, some meteorites and moon rocks. The microscope looms over a miniature rendering of the sky on the night of the moon landing, the irony of rendering the infinite on a piece of wood no more than a couple inches square called out by the artist, who in the wall label for the work notes that the piece does not include “historical presence of awe and pride.” Next to that piece, sharing space on the same wooden shelf, is a collage of the moon’s surface—perhaps the arts and crafts project of a retired astronaut turned hobbyist artist. Against the back wall, a laser level projects a line across the room to the space blanket hanging on a coat rack, starkly rendering an illuminated horizon line that could serve as a reminder of the unfamiliar one the astronaut was confronted with on the moon. Taken as a whole, the installation makes one wonder what it must be like to return to earth after having one’s perspective of life on this planet so radically altered.