Bringing blood to brushes

Joshua Diamond’s journey through self expression and education

artist-profile

Most art students go to Michael’s to pick up supplies, but Joshua Diamond goes to the local butcher.

His supplies include blood –– sometimes even his own.

Diamond, a senior environmental design major, previously attended a school in the midwest for phlebotomy in search of steady work and out of personal interest. His solo art exhibit “Ketsueki” is open from Nov. 7-16 at the Center for the Arts gallery. “Ketsueki” translates to blood in Japanese and the show features a variety of art mediums including his use of blood, sculpture and steel.

Fellow artist Nick Kushner originally inspired him to integrate blood into his work. Kushner, who worked solely with blood as a medium, befriended Diamond while he was experimenting with artistic vessels. 

“I started to experiment with [blood] in my past art school life as a painting medium alongside gold leaf and watercolor,” Diamond said. “[It was] an abstract way to conjure up a phenomenology with certain interests and themes of existentialism, alchemy, Jungian psychology and symbolism, sexuality and BDSM, and a sort of disconnection felt between the modern world and my body.” 

Diamond uses beef blood from a local butcher shop in his work, although he has used his own blood for his pieces. Still, he does not choose to use his own blood unless it is out of necessity. 

“I haven’t used my own blood in quite some time –– there’s lots of limitations and precautions with that, and when needing a lot of the medium, it is not the ideal source,” Diamond said.

His previous painting series, “Blood Forms,” incorporated blood into every painting within the collection. He said there are similarities between the exhibit and his current exhibit.

Diamond said one of the sculptures uses large-scale watercolor paper and blood to emulate the “textures, colors and performance” of the blood. It then “pools up” and creates different reds, blacks and coagulations, he said. 

He drew and painted as a kid and gradually worked his way into sculpture because of his attraction to texture. This led to him using different physical mediums and artistic techniques.

Despite the success that goes along with debuting his own solo exhibit, Diamond stopped pursuing art prior to transferring to UB. 

“A lot of the ideas I’ve built on in the past two semesters are with mediums and concepts I’ve had for quite some time, but until recently, didn’t pursue to fruition and explore while studying the design of the built environment,” Diamond said.

His academic peers acknowledge the significance of his journey with art and education. 

Kassandra Hazelhurst, a UB alum and fellow artist, appears on the poster for the new exhibit and models one of Diamond’s sculptures.

“Josh is definitely one of the few students pushing the culture in the art program. He’s fearless with his work and is extremely candid when he talks about it,” Hazelhurst said. “I had the pleasure of modeling one of his sculptures and was not only impressed with his design skills, but also his craftsmanship.”

Diamond’s interests go beyond blood. “Ketsueki” explores different mediums that the artist is passionate about. He previously incorporated dead honeybees, burned wood, bullets and knives into his work. 

“I would say all the mediums used in the show are my favorite, but blood is definitely one that I don’t feel finished with , and am excited to keep exploring,” Diamond said.

Diamond said he is attempting to create a significant impression within the art community and his program. His use of controversial mediums has been growing in popularity through his time at UB. 

Aside from creating art, Joshua works as a student supervisor with Russ Crispell in UB’s Outdoor Pursuits office. Crispell remembers his first impression of Diamond as an artist and individual.

“I think his ability to focus on detail compliments him well as a student supervisor and in his life as an artist,” Crispell said. 

Diamond said he hopes to one day combine his passions for architecture and sculpture and he attributes some of his art to his time at UB.

 “I’m sure I’ll keep working on work that sort of creates an elegance with a macabre  unsettling nature,” Diamond said. “I’m very happy I was able to take a risk and take a sculpture class here when I first transferred and discover there was a way to more accurately be creative with myself.”

Samantha Vargas is the asst. arts editor and can be reached at samantha.vargas@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @SamVargasArts