Kevin Frances: Will you tell me a bit about your working process? How do you choose your materials/subject matter? Are you working towards a goal?

Joel Seidner: I like materials for what they are, and often get influenced by their context. However I prefer to use materials that have symbology and history specific to me and my past. When I use materials or processes that I find appealing visually but have no relationship to me, I end up doing a lot of experimentation that results in nothing most of time, with only a few exceptions. I like testing myself with all sort of materials as a way to get the ideas flowing and to develop relationships and dynamics until an image of the objects I want hits me. In the end I gravitate to the materials and the language that decorate the time I have yearned for. Often I can’t tell which came first, the idea or the material.

I have been working broadly with the subject of identity and its manipulation. It’s a fascination I have had for a long time but was restricted by my certainty in the very superficial and simple notions I had formed when I was very young. So I have been making work to explore, test, and just think about the Identity, the roots of its fabrication, and evolution/manipulation.

I feel like the work I make comes to me slowly and then catalyzes all of the sudden; like an image, an illustration of a confused thought or an object that fills a void. I’d like to think that my body of work is an inquiry that happens piece by piece. I have clear expectation of what I want the most objects to accomplish before I start working on them. The end result is not exactly as envisioned in the beginning because there is always the enjoyment of manipulating  materials in the process of bringing the object to fruition.

 KF: You said you often use materials that have strong personal connections to you. I think one of the defining features of nostalgia is the acute pain that occurs when you try to relive the past, does this come into play in the creation of your work? Does the personal meaning of the materials change for you through working?

JS: Yes! In essence that is one of the biggest motivations for me to make work. The materials often carry a permanent familiarity that time can’t touch. A lot of the work I make echoes my tendencies to get stuck in the past and resentment of time’s merciless motion. Some of the work I’ve made literally is done to try bring places or objects from my past, create things that have the flavors of my early childhood in Colombia before I moved to the U.S. When making objects I try to stay as faithful to the truth, to the memory, otherwise I’m afraid that it won’t be satisfying; there wouldn’t be any point in making anything.

In that same way the material is sacred.

It would be a disaster if I relearned the context of the material while making a sculpture. I am concentrating on being able to defy time for myself. I have tried to imitate and adopt materials, but I lose interest in the making the piece.


Joel Seidner was born in Bogota, Colombia. He received his BFA from the  Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2014, where he received the 2014 Oxbow Fellowship Alternate Scholarship.