Art Here, Art Now: Joelle Ford Through the Eyes of An Art History Student

This year we are excited to partner with the Department of Art History at the University of Kansas to provide background and insight on participating artists and their work. David Cateforis, Department Chair and Art History Professor, leads graduate students enrolled in the course Art Here, Art Now as they select and research some of the artists participating in the Art Auction.

Melinda Narro, MA student in Art History at the University of Kansas, on Joelle Ford

At first glance, Joelle Ford’s Benefit Art Auction entry dazzles the eye with a kaleidoscopic array of fragmented imagery. Swatches of black and bright white punctuate the predominantly red and blue color palette of the collage, which Ford organizes into a grid of diamonds. Upon closer inspection, details begin to swim out of the dizzying visual jumble, including human faces, college logos, glimpses of stadium exteriors, and isolated body parts caught in the acts of dribbling, shooting, blocking, dunking, or fist pumping. Thirteen chunky gold and silver rings, several wedge-shaped slices of basketballs, and a small chorus of shouting Bill Selfs scattered throughout the composition further clue us into the subject of this artwork: University of Kansas men’s basketball.

Ford, a KU grad whose art makes use of everyday found objects, used a total of six snipped-up season tickets and the promotional booklet they shipped in to craft this tribute to the Jayhawk’s 2017-18 season. The work’s title, Season 14, references the team becoming Big XII champions for the fourteenth year in a row, eclipsing UCLA’s thirteen-year streak to claim the record for most consecutive years winning a conference title. Between herself and her husband, Allen, Ford had two season tickets to work with; the remaining four came through Allen’s colleagues in KU’s School of Business, where he has taught since 1976. Ford’s cut-and-paste creation serves as an homage to a beloved Lawrence institution, commemorating a season’s worth of wins with the same tickets that let Jayhawk fans watch it unfold.