Joel Swanson: Sticks & Stones

David B. Smith Gallery

August 18 - September 16, 2017

  • Opening Reception: Friday, August 18th, from 7 - 9pm
  • Artist talk begins 6:30pm in main gallery
SwansonJoel Swanson, Soda Lid, 2017, lightjet print, 48 x 96 in. (121.92 x 243.84 cm)

David B. Smith Gallery is pleased to present Joel Swanson’s second solo exhibition with the gallery, Sticks & Stones. This exhibition comes during a tumultuous sociopolitical time. Inspired by current events, Sticks & Stones addresses language as a political act. Using words, phrases, and symbols, this exhibition makes material the typically intangible, but very real, use of language by public figures in today’s politics and journalism. Swanson produces visual acts that subvert contemporary power structures and acknowledge a fluidity of interpretation to create something generative as opposed to destructive.

David B. Smith Gallery
1543 A Wazee Street
Denver, CO, 80202


In Sticks & Stones, language functions as a performative gesture capable of defining one’s own identity or calling out a societal attempt to define that of another. By reclaiming words used by contemporary leaders or citing aphorisms from childhood in neon and sculptural form, Swanson subverts meanings prescribed by society in favor of representing symbols of alterity as a form of resistance. Smeared newspaper headlines serve as public and personal targets of cultural obsession with bold media events, and call to attention the speed with which perception and memory surrounding monumental events are distorted.

Ideologies, like language, are fluid and enlivened through action. The viewer takes part in this performance, standing in the presence of these physical manifestations of language. His or her own meaning is ascribed to these words and phrases, thus creating their own reality in the face of established definitions. New for Swanson, Sticks & Stones provides a semi-autobiographical perspective in addition to sociopolitical commentary.

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