Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Bootstraps & Best Practices - Joshua Jarrett

Joshua Jarrett is a Georgian artist and student. While experienced and dabbled in painting, drawing, sketching, writing, collage-making, etc., Joshua's most accomplished/substantial/graspable works are his comics. Indeed, these comics are the convergence of his many talents. They are equal parts sketches, drawings, & paintings, poetry, prose, & thoughtful musings, all mixed into mosaic-like art. His first three professionally self-released comics ("Love Poems for Nobody," "Dear Victor," & "Diary") are available to download for free or donation at his Gumroad account, which can be accessed via Facebook or Gumroad itself; additionally, I have reviewed these three comics here. In Joshua's two most recently released comics, "Bootstraps" and "Best Practices," creative visual beauty meets philosophic thought and meditative musings. "Bootstraps," also available on Gumroad, and "Best Practices," available to read on his website here, both delve into autobiographical territories of introspection, philosophy, and peace of mind through creativity.

Bootstraps (2014):

Available on his Gumroad account here, "Bootstraps" is Jarrett at his most thoughtful, intellectual, and philosophic while still, by turns, spending time to examine the self and interpret personal information. Compiled from writings and drawings, which are gleaned from experiences spanning the course of several months, this comic is a prime example of Joshua's mosaic, collage-esque style, for each section is in its own right a distinct work of art. However, when cinched together with an expert eye for detail, "Bootstraps" becomes, not merely a gathering of thoughts, observations, and associated drawings, but a wholly fulfilled story arc, which gains a converging momentum as the pages turn. In this way, the comic's story and thought process is elliptical, tying together the various, seemingly unrelated strands from the beginning and middle into a beautiful braid by the end. This braid is one of self-discovery, self-acceptance, self-actualization. Like the Gordian Knot which much be solved, not through the knot itself, but by means outside of the knot, so, too, must one, such as this comic's narrator, seek to gain an understanding of himself, not through what has happened to him, but how he reacts to what has happened to him--how he reverberates, bounces back, "pulls [himself] up 'by the bootstraps'." If this convergence of theme and subject is not at once clear, give Joshua's comic a second reading, and a third, and a fourth... On a first reading, the final page of the comic may seem to drop suddenly and, as such, could be viewed as just another strand, separate and unrelated to that which has come before it. But this interpretation, I suggest, is trying to understand the comic in terms of the knot itself. To solve the knot, one must think outside the box; to understand "Bootstraps," one must read it repeatedly to see how the strands come together.

Best Practices (2014):

Not really available for download and certainly not (yet) in print, Joshua's most recent comic, "Best Practices," can be read for free on his website, here. This is his shortest comic to date, but is arguably his lushest and most visually beautiful. While his four previous works often exist with lots of empty space, sometimes utilizing said empty space creatively (see: "Love Poems for Nobody"), "Best Practices," in its current form, doesn't even waste time with a title page, evidenced by the opening page to the left. There's too much to express, too much to show for there to be empty space or time spent reiterating facts with a title page. But there is a tradeoff because the writing of this comic is sparse, restricted to the barest of essential "do good" thoughts, which are themselves like steamy wisps of evaporating dew in the sun's morning light: seen, noted, gone. In previous works, Jarrett's drawings and writings complimented each other, but "Best Practices" seems to go a step further. Images lead into the written thoughts or observations and often times these partially expressed words are completed, and fulfilled, by images, surroundings. Furthermore, the images themselves and the words both convey the same story of a life lived quietly, removed from the stresses and fast-paced realities of college life and city-dwelling. One panel reads, "Take Your Time," and is framed by feet standing in bathwater, bathwater which is clear, calm, non-turbulent. In essence, "Best Practices" gently reminds, not just the subject of the comic, but also the reader to stop and smell the roses, to enjoy life, to be content, serene. Thus, Joshua's most recent comic juxtaposes "Bootstraps" stylistically, thematically, and intellectually. While "Bootstraps" is heavy with written thought and mental inquiry, making direct reference to the birthplace of modern-day philosophy (i.e. ancient Greece [see: Gordian Knot]), "Best Practices" is visual, meditative, and, we can therefore conclude, taking us somewhere distinctly Zen.

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