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7 Questions with Joe Fig

On a hectic pre-Irma Wednesday, I was lucky enough to sit down with Joe Fig, our new Fine Arts and Visual Studies Department Head, and learn more about his life, work, and pizza preferences.

Joe earned his BFA and MFA in Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts, New York. He is known for work that explores the creative process and the spaces where art is made. His paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings, and videos have been exhibited nationally and internationally with over thirty solo and fifty group exhibitions. He is the author of Inside the Painter’s Studio and Inside the Artist’s Studio (Princeton Architectural Press), which share an intimate view inside the studios of today’s leading artists.

What were you like in college at SVA? 

I had very long hair. I was a Fine Arts major. I did sculpture and in my senior year only painting. I had lots of friends in other departments and was ambitious. Loved being in New York but also liked to have fun.

It sounds stupid… girlfriends and breakups were always a struggle. As far as academics, painting, or my studio work I was always actually very dedicated to that. I had a quest for learning as I didn’t grow up in an arts family.

How is adjusting to life in Sarasota, coming from New York?

So far, I’ve loved Sarasota. But it’s very timely with the hurricane season approaching and it’s a little… scary. But I was told that hurricanes never hit Sarasota so I’m hoping that will continue. I heard the Native Americans used to come here to escape hurricanes!

How does working with students inspire you?

When you’ve been working as an artist as long as I have, at certain points you become weary, and it’s often a struggle to come up with new ideas and new bodies of work. I appreciate the freedom the students have to pursue anything that their hearts desire.

What are 3 must-haves in your studio?

A horseshoe for good luck, a good contemplating chair, and lots of artwork around me—lots of color.  [Referring to the artwork in his office] I call this my “wall of detritus” – it’s objects other artists have given me from their studios: used pallets from some painters, some tools. I started asking them to give me stuff and they did.

What do you hope to impart to Ringling students?

I hope to impart a sense of excitement to them about the work. Being an artist is really hard and you have to train as if you’re an Olympic athlete because there is a bunch of other artists around the country and the world who are training just as hard.

There’s a lot of reward in being an artist in how you see and view the world, and in the relationships that you build in and after college. You’re not only leading life as an artist, you’re leading a creative life and that generally entails relationships with friends who are creative types also. That’s really a great way to go through life.

But being an artist is hard and it takes a lot of dedication and hard work, ambition, a little bit of luck. But you also have to believe in the work that you do. I’d say I expect them to push themselves to make work for themselves and to not be afraid to fail… and if you’re going to fail, fail gloriously.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Well, I actually tell the students what you’re taught is how to see, and that’s your superpower. That’s what you have over your friends who went to liberal arts school. And for me that’s happened. I’ve noticed it when I drop my kids off at practice for lacrosse and I’m walking across the field back to the car. It’ll be like 5-6pm and I’ll see the way the sun is hitting a blade of grass with the dark green underneath and a beautiful bright green… I see it and I’m like “Oh my God that is amazing!” and then I just kind of keep walking. And other people don’t see that. Or even now talking to you the relationship with your head how it curves around with the space behind you, your pink case underneath your laptop how it relates to the pink on the paper over there. I feel I already have my superpower!

Word association!

Pranks

Love ‘em.

Sleeping in

Miss it.

Photoshop

Incredibly helpful.

Karaoke

Don’t do it.

Pineapple on pizza

Clams on pizza.

Hurricanes

Don’t understand.

See Joe’s work at www.joefig.com

[This post was written by Kristen Camisa (Illustration, ’18)]

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Patron Type # of Items Type of Material Borrowing Time
Student 40 Books 3 weeks
CDs and CD-ROMs 3 days
DVDs and Blu-Ray 3 days
Magazines (unbound) 3 day
Magazines/Annuals (bound) 5 days
Videogames* 7 days
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DVDs and Blu-Ray 7 days
Magazines (unbound) 3 day
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Magazines (unbound) 3 day
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Videogames* N/A
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DVDs and Blu-Ray 3 days
Magazines (unbound) 3 day
Magazines/Annuals (bound) 5 days
Videogames* N/A
Local Teacher 15 Books 3 weeks
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DVDs and Blu-Ray 3 days
Magazines (unbound) 3 day
Magazines/Annuals (bound) 5 days
Videogames* N/A
Chartwell’s and Follett employees located at Ringling 15 Books 3 weeks
CDs and CD-ROMs 3 days
DVDs and Blu-Ray 3 days
Magazines (unbound) 3 day
Magazines/Annuals (bound) 5 days
Videogames* N/A
*The video game collection supports the research and teaching of the Game Art & Design program. Video games may not be checked out by Alumni, Ringling College Library Association members or Family members.

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The Alfred R. Goldstein Library features a wide variety of quiet, group study, and work process spaces. Looking for a quiet study area? Make your way up to the 3rd floor to look for a book in the Research Collection or peruse the new art magazines while relaxing in comfortable seating. When the weather is nice, you can take your coffee from Roberta’s Café on the first floor to one of the four terraces to work outside and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. Looking for meeting space to get together with a group? Check out the group study rooms, which are available on all three floors of the Goldstein Library. The 10 group study rooms are available to students on a first-come first served basis, or available for booking by Ringling College faculty and staff for group and class meetings.

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