Another 100 Colorado Creatives: Joel Swanson

Joel Swanson, "Ampersand," 13'x13', ink, 2014, MCA Denver.
#84: Joel Swanson

Words and letters and the physical act of writing elegantly float through Joel Swanson's world, where he explores and deconstructs their shapes and meanings in stylish installations. And he's a busy man: Swanson started the year with a well-received solo at MCA Denver; now he's off on a roll of group shows that will take him through the summer. And then there's his day job in academe at the University of Colorado, where he runs a program as tailored as his own work to the contemporary thrust of fine art and graphic design.

We asked Swanson to take the 100CC questionnaire; following are answers as elegant and timely as the work he creates.

See also: 100 Colorado Creatives: Beau Carey

Joel Swanson, installation at MCA Denver, 2014.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?

Joel Swanson: Stanley Kubrick. He was as much an art-maker as he was a filmmaker. Kubrick was a master of composition and truly understood how to manipulate film as a time-based medium. He was never afraid of making his viewers wait, which makes us really have to engage with his work. The themes in his films seem to become more relevant over time, not less. I would have loved to collaborate with him on some type of filmic installation that blends my love of text with his mastery of imagery.

Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?

N. Katherine Hayles is a professor at Duke who writes extensively about media theory and electronic literature. Her work on the materiality of language has been foundational for my artistic practice. I first had the chance to take a seminar with her while I was in graduate school at the University of California San Diego. Hayles's writing is insightful and although deeply theoretical, it is approachable and relevant. Her most recent book, How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis, explores how digital media actively shapes our cognitive processes neurologically, biologically and psychologically.

Continue reading for more from Joel Swanson.

Location Info


Firehouse Art Center

667 4th Ave., Longmont, CO

Category: General


2000 21st St., Boulder, CO

Category: General

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