Joshua Zupan studies Art and Ecology at UC Santa Cruz. He works predominantly in drawing and various print media - etching, serigraphy, and relief. His pieces are connected through a loose narrative that draws on ideas of identity as it relates to the many abstract and overlapping social systems we exist within today. He draws inspiration from artists like Trenton Doyle Hancock, Käthe Kollwitz, and René Magritte.
In addition to Art, I study Ecology & Evolutionary Biology which sits in a transition between studying broad, abstract systems and more localized biological phenomenon. My art practice has been heavily influenced by my work in ecology. Through studying the formation of ecological networks, I have come to find that the language of systematic organization can be deeply useful for investigating the way humans build socio-political frameworks that shape daily life.
The structures we create around existence are foundational in the development of humankind and our understanding of self. I’m interested in exploring how an individual identity can be shaped by these foundations while operating within them, just as an individual organism is influenced in relation to its ecosystem. Though these networks themselves seem complete wholes, my work seeks to highlight the webbed nature of these forces, and their ubiquitous cultural weight. You cannot isolate political, social, or even ecological influences from each other: they are all interconnected. I am interested in how narrowing and broadening my view of these systems can abstract relationships formed within and between them.
My present art practice is centered around developing a personal narrative through a body of work that shows pieces of a world on the borderline between ours and something surreal. These works are inspired by a deep interest in science and science-fiction related imagery along with surrealistic compositions. I imagine bits and pieces of a different or future world, and the role of identity within it, as the large networks that govern our lives gradually change.
The 2020 Irwin Scholars are
Aarón Martínez, Anastasia Oleson, Angel Gonzales, Chloe Murr, Dominic Ramirez, Edgar Cruz, Emma McWaid, Jocelyn Lee, Joshua Zupan, Morgan Tomfohr, Natalie Del Castillo, Rodrigo Ramos, Veriche Blackwell