Joseph Shetler (born Goshen, Indiana) is an American post-minimalist artist. He approaches post-minimalism with a Mennonite lens, basing his aesthetic off of anabaptist theology and simple way of life as well as art history. He was educated at Hesston College (A.A. 2004), Goshen College (B.A. 2006), and Arizona State University (M.F.A. 2014). He lives in Washington, DC.
The presence and value of simplicity in my upbringing has greatly inspired my practice, both conceptually and aesthetically. Raised in a Mennonite family, the idea of simplicity pervades all aspects of life, from the modest architecture of our churches to our cookbooks, which are titled More With Less and Simply in Season. One of the theological questions we ask ourselves is how can we be in the world, but not of the world? Mennonite families typically live humbly; homes are not embellished with art, excess, or worldly items, but are rather of modest design, in which form follows function. One of the ways to live simply is to not place too much emphasis on the endless pursuit of worldly success, popular culture, and social media. As a visual artist, I create work that reflects these values; it’s a rejection of the things that I believe complicate our lives.
In earlier work, I had been using the grid as a tool to layout my geometric and pattern based drawings. My relationship with the grid eventually shifted through labor from the initial instrumental view to something worthy being objectified. The grid lends itself to simple patterns and progressions, creating a logical drawing that can be read.
I see my work as the visual definition of my character and what I strive to be. There is a sense of consistency and order in my life, which I aim for my mark and compositions to reflect. When defining ethos we have to ask what brings a sense of credibility to the work. The evident investment of time, the quality of the marks, and the references to historical work conveys my dedication to the language of drawing.