Opening First Friday: Joe Wallace’s “The Studio Lab” in #220!


The work of an artist doesn’t always reflect their private lives, but mine does, whether directly as a sort of confessional/first person storytelling mode, or more indirectly when I take and manipulate photographs, draw, or paint from my subconscious.

For better or worse, there is no layer of removal or professional distance from me and my work. It is all personal in ways that become incredibly uncomfortable at times. That’s important as a preface.

I spent a good chunk of my life–14 years–in the United States Air Force as a military reporter and videographer. I’ve interviewed people and shot video in flood zones, after airplane crashes, house fires,  and many other unusual circumstances.

My reporting work and military service has led me all over the globe; Iceland, Japan, Norway, South Korea, Honduras, Germany, and many other places.

All of those experiences, from the mundane to the intense, inform my work. That’s especially true when it comes to important issues connected with military service. Issues that include service-related causes of depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and how these mental health issues affect people returning to civilian life after military service has ended.

I have had traumatic experiences in the course of my military career. I’ve never seen combat. I know the effects of combat on my fellow service members, including the scars that no one can see after coming home. While my work is not exclusively about PTSD or depression, the shadow of my military experiences falls over all the work that I do.

The purpose of my work includes promoting the idea that a person is not exclusively haunted or gratified by the past, but that pain and gratification are intertwined in ways that we don’t always recognize or even understand.

My artwork often involves scenes or glimpses of events that are not fully explained–like discovering a set of incriminating old photographs that seem to reveal something wrong or unusual.

What you see in these freeze-frames comes usually comes from my subconscious. Sometimes at random, sometimes not.

Are these vacation photos of the damned? A collection of confessional Rorschach blots? Channel surfing through a collection of joyous, painful, erotic, and haunted memories?

To me they seem more like the accidental voyeurism you experience seeing open apartment windows flashing by as you look out the window of the train.

Joe Wallace

Contact me at for collaboration, commissions, or other proposals.

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