50-pound Blanket: Photographs by Joshua Ives

 In Future Exhibitions

50-pound Blanket: Photographs by Joshua Ives

April 2 – May 12, 2024

Artist Statement
50-Pound Blanket
is a deeply personal and introspective photography project chronicling my journey through depression and healing after transitioning from a military career to civilian life and full-time college studies. This project explores the themes of depression, aging, and the therapeutic power of art. It aims to foster dialogue and contemplation about the impact of mental health on individuals and how creative expression can promote mental well-being.

When I retired in 2015, after a 24-year career, I’d spent more than half my life in the military. Only three months later, what seemed like overnight, I was a full-time undergrad at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School. At the age of 45, I felt disconnected and out of place. I was the old man in class, standing out like a 5’8” dinosaur. As the semesters progressed, I became increasingly withdrawn and fell into a prolonged period of depression, as if a heavy 50-pound blanket was weighing me down. During this challenging time, I discovered solace and therapy through the lens of my camera. I embarked on a contemplative journey through Utica, NY, captivated by the ethereal light of early mornings and late afternoons. My goal was to photograph the essence of the city, the sixth-oldest in the state. Along the way, I found myself drawn to discarded and forgotten objects, symbols of their former usefulness cast aside. Exploring the city by foot allowed me to slow down, connect with my surroundings, and engage with the stories of the people I met. Through this process, I gradually discovered that my attraction to abandoned objects and the individuals I met mirrored my feelings of displacement and not belonging. Furthermore, I found that I wasn’t merely documenting Utica, but creating a profound self-portrait. Each image became a fragment of my narrative, a visual representation of my struggles and resilience.

Image Credits:

1) Mother and Child on the Riverbank, Utica, NY, November 2020. Digital photograph.

2) Abondoned, Leland Avenue, Utica, NY, October 2016. Digital photograph.

3) Smoke Break, Cornelia Street, Utica, NY, September 2020. Digital photograph.

4) Genesee Street Window Reflections, Utica, NY, April 2020. Digital photograph.

5) Late Afternoon Reflected Light, Hotel Street, Utica, NY, September 2020. Digital photograph.


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