Brian Joiner (1963 - 2010), a native Cincinnatian who began drawing before he could even walk. Graduating from Wyoming High School, Brian attended the Cleveland Institute of Art. He became bored and considered dropping out when he took a class from Holocaust survivor, Julian Stanczank. Stanczank,inspired Joiner to stay in school, earn his bachelor of fine arts degree and become a full-time artist.
Joiner earned a five-year Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1985, where he majored in painting and minored in drawing. His work-study program included two years of assistant teaching at the Cleveland Museum of Art, while doing a variety of freelance work around the City of Cleveland. In 1989, a brief trip to London and Paris heightened his awareness of new ideas and artistic opportunities. Brian took a ten-year leave of absence from painting in order to find out what he really wanted out of life, only to discover that there is nothing in this world he iwas better suited for than creating artwork. He left his job of eleven years at Ethicon Endo-Surgery in 1997 to pursue his art career and never looked back. Brian sought new mediums while evolving toward newer forms of expression and discovery. His life was one of extremes; he was driven by a need to express those polarities in his work. Joiner constantly exploried new ideas in order to enhance the intensity of the visual experience. Brian put great emphasis on the creative process, very calculated from its inception, in dealing with the spatial dynamics of surface juxtapositioning. His Middle Passage series was his visual interpretation of how history repeats itself when it comes to the atrocities, brutalities, degradation and human tragedy associated iwith diabolical acts of terrorism,beit brief outbursts or long-term calculated plans of destruction. We need to continually study our past to understand current events and determine where we fit in this scheme of things. This series was and is a comparative analysis, relating historical events with current events, revealing the irony and dark sense of humor Father Time has on humanity.
HIs last works were an investigation of visual metaphors created to explain or document current and historical events on a universal level, some transcending the spatial confines of the base medium. Many of the pieces can be read on many different levels because it was his intent, as an artist, to address politics, sex, religion, terrorism and racism all at once, particularly in the Christ/Dracula Series.
Joiner received many awards and much recognition, including a 2001 Individual Artist Fellowship from the Ohio Arts Council. His long list of solo and group exhibitions includes shows throughout Greater Cincinnati and across the country. Joiner participated in numerous exhibitions throughout the Midwest, including the 2002 COLOR Exhibition hosted by Oprah Winfrey as well as the Indiana Black Expo In 2004, Brian was one of a select group of national and local artists commissioned by the National Underground Freedom Railroad Center for their permanent collection. Joiner's Freedom Center 4' x 5', mixed media, multidimensional portraits, are painted in black and white to focus attention on the subjects' fight for freedom rather than the color of their skin, he says. Painted from color photographs, Joiner made them his own by exaggerating a feature, a line or a shape. A well-known figure in Cincinnati, Joiner has received an Individual Fellowship from the Ohio Arts Council and was named "best portrait artist in the city" by Cincinnati Magazine His work is featured in the collections of Duke Energy, Cleveland Art Association, National African American Museum and the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, among other corporations. Brian Joiner received an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council and was the designated artist of the 2007 Governor's Awards for the Arts. In 2009, Brian was the Duncanson Artist-In-Residence,Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati, Ohio. Joiner was a featured artist in the Black Creativity exhibition, Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago from January 14 through February 28, 2010. Brian Joiner died of liver cancer in 2010. He was posthumously awarded the prestigious NAACP Most Innovative Artist Award in October 2012. A wonderful spirit, a genius as an artistic innovator, Brian is missed.