Josiah Golson: Art Festival 

Allison Craft

Contributing Writer

Josiah Golson is a Chattanooga-based artist who uses his unique artistic voice to tackle social issues in a way that invites collaboration from the viewer. His work FESTIVAL is an installation piece that takes place in the Carlos Gallery in the University Art Building. The work consists of poetry, installation, and performance to tackle the complexity of identity. His piece will be on display from August 16 to October 13 this year, and he will have a reception and talk on September 18 at 5 p.m. Golson can be found on Instagram at @josiahgolson and on Twitter/X at @JosiahGolson. 

Josiah Golson creates art to share his story. He explains that there’s power in storytelling. A driving force for him is “What can happen if you don’t have the agency to have power over your own narrative,” he says. 

Golson’s experiences in law school at the University of Texas have shaped this work and his practice as a whole. He describes his relationship with music during this time as crucial. Going to South by Southwest, the underground music scene, was all part of a specific moment in his life. The way music is used to make sense of all of the emotions regarding youth helped create what FESTIVAL turned out to be: an exploration of how the private space of a bedroom can imitate the eclectic thoughts of a teenage music-lover.

He describes that transformation was essential in figuring out how this piece would come to fruition. He planned to capture something as fleeting as the experience of being a teenager and the way music shapes what helped create the unique FESTIVAL experience. He created a rich bedroom scenescape that was constantly changing to capture a moment in time. “Life is endless transformation.” Golson describes this when talking about transformation in his work.  He expresses that transformation is an important part of his practice as an artist as a whole. 

For aspiring artists, Golson recommends to just “embrace your time” and to “develop the practice of listening.” He encourages young people, especially artists, to live in the moment. During the hustle and bustle of youth that’s something that’s easy to lose.

When interviewing art professor, Jessica Wohl, about her opinions regarding the work, she expressed excitement at the opportunity of hearing Golson’s perspective.“It brings some voices into classrooms that widen the conversation,” Wohl said. She also mentioned how a lot of the artists that present work in this space are regional. This exploration of work from close communities provides students with inspiring art and artists that they can actually talk to and meet. “I think the work is extremely accessible,” Wohl continued when asked about her feelings about the work itself. The imagery of a teenage bedroom is a familiar memory to the college students of Sewanee and creates a narrative that’s relatable but still exciting.

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