Two paintings of varying size and color hang side by side on a white wall.

Case Studies 3: Joseph Parra – the edge of flesh and blood

Case Studies 3: Joseph Parra – the edge of flesh and blood

Kasser Theater Lobby
September 14 – December 16, 2023

Joseph Parra’s paintings in the edge of flesh and blood explore the larger consequences of searching for validation, inspiration, and intimacy through digital images by asking “How does desire change when life is mediated through screens?”  

Using acrylic paint and a custom wooden rig, Parra squeezes hundreds of globs of paint by hand in a quasi-grid-like fashion on a single canvas. Together, the individual drops of paint create a larger image, similar to how individual pixels function as the building blocks of screen-based images. Parra relies on the physical presence and dimensionality of the paint to bring awareness to the fleeting nature of digital images that project ideals of sex, power, and fantasy. He isolates torsos, arms, and chests with a particular focus on the male body to draw attention to notions of masculinity and how these images circulate online. The hollow nature of the images he references is also explored through ideas of anonymity. For example, there are no distinct, identifiable features such as a face present in the paintings – these bodies belong to everyone and no one. Similarly, Parra depicts these hyper-aestheticized bodies in nondescript environments that appear more like loading screens or low-fi renderings than actual places further suggesting an idea of an impossible setting or unattainable reality.

Screenshot of a virtual walkthrough of the exhibition in the Kasser Theater lobby. Highlighted is a blue and white painting.
Visit the digital twin of this installation

Opening Reception

  • Celebrate the opening of Montclair State University Galleries Fall 2023 exhibitions The Backend, Case Studies: Joseph Parra –the edge of flesh and blood, and Sound Booth – Brian Oakes
  • Thursday, September 14, 5 – 7 p.m. Remarks at 6 p.m.
Upcoming Events
About the Artist

Joseph Parra (b. 1990; West Palm Beach, FL) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. His paintings explore the construction of images and how desire is mediated by digital technologies. He received an MFA from Hunter College, New York, NY (2022); a BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD (2012); and attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Madison, ME (2014). Parra’s recent solo exhibitions include ‘TechNoir’ at ASHES/ASHES gallery in New York, NY; ‘3×3’ at Gallery Four in Baltimore, MD; ‘Surface Void’ at Gallerie M in Milwaukee, WI; and ‘Sense of Being’ at Crane Arts in Philadelphia, PA.  NY. He is the recipient of The Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant, YoungArts Microgrant, and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Fellowship for The Byrdcliffe Artist in Residence Program.