filling station is a socially distanced exhibition by Qwist Joseph at Vicki Myhren Gallery. Though we were able to install the exhibition and document it in our physical space, VMG is not permitted to allow public viewing of this exhibition from visitors outside of the DU campus community. We encourage those who wish to experience the exhibition to do so virtually on this page. You can also view a map of the installation at VMG here.
To learn more about Qwist Joseph and his practice, visit the artist’s website.
Home is a concept I never thought deeply about before moving away from Colorado at the age of 25. Nearly a decade later, I was excited and slightly daunted to return as a teacher and visiting artist at the University of Denver. This homecoming sent me on a search for the truth of my own story.
The title of this exhibition, Filling Station, references the Conoco on Downing Street, located less than a mile from campus. This is where my mom met the biological father of my older brother and sister. During my residency, I have been reflecting on the idea that without that chance encounter, and the abuse that ensued thereafter, my younger sister and I would never have come to be. Put simply, my family wouldn’t be what it is, and that’s a fact I’ve historically taken for granted.
To explore this complex story, I broke it down into the most fundamental narrative arc: birth, life, and death. With three distinct rooms, the architecture of the gallery lent itself to this triptych telling. The viewer is invited to peer into strange and intimate personal moments, both real and imagined. There’s a retelling of my birth story with an adult me present, an interrogation of manhood and my own sexual awakening, and finally an exploration of loss, which took on new meaning with the dawning of the coronavirus pandemic.
Through this making, I’ve discovered that I still don’t know exactly what home means. It seems at once, a space, a place, and a feeling. Something people yearn for, and something others flee. By examining the ways privilege, trauma, and mobility operated in my own domestic history, I hope to better understand my larger responsibilities in the world. In August, my partner and I will move back to Southern California, where we will continue the search for our own home.