Holt Russel Gallery hosts Inherent Value: The Art of Joelle Ford


Colbie Fairley

Artist Joelle Ford Showcases at Baker’s Holt Russel Art Gallery on Sept. 30

Artist Joelle Ford is showcasing her artwork for students to observe in a gallery titled “Inherent Value”. She attended an artist’s reception hosted in Baker’s Holt Russel Art Gallery on Sept. 30.

The Texas-Louisiana native first brought her passions to Lawrence, Kan., where she received a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in 1999 at the University of Kansas. Ford incorporates material in her artwork that is overlooked, or thrown away. One of her pieces was made from parts of a doll house she had crafted for her nieces. She has also worked with old files, newspapers and other paper material found around her home.

Ford conversed with those who attended the showcase, sharing parts of her life that were an inspiration for most of her artwork. One of her sculptures titled “She Has Thoughts but Cannot Speak” was inspired by Ford’s mother, who had complications with brain tumors. The sculpture depicts a woman’s head surrounded by a wooden box, where springs and coils burst through the top of the box, representing the difficulty of speaking freely.

“My mother had lots to say. She wanted to say and do so much, but the words would never come out,” Ford said. “That became the reason and the format for this piece.”

Ford also explained how the COVID-19 pandemic affected her as an artist.

“It took a toll on me and my artistic side,” Ford said. “During the beginning of COVID, I was unable to collect material for most of my projects. Ordering online was difficult, but it was my only option. I never stopped creating, I just had to adjust the way I created.”

Ford’s wanted to explore beyond the idea of simple paintings. She brings life to things that are typically looked over, forgotten, or thrown away. A portion of her artwork consists of material such as paint can lids, old door hinges and cereal boxes.

“A lot of my material are things that you typically don’t notice. But everything has value somehow,” Ford said.

Dr. Nicholaus Pumphrey, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, admired Ford’s creativity as he walked through the gallery.

“She’s very nifty. I mean a lot of this stuff you would see on the street or in a garage. Very creative,” Pumphrey said.

The gallery will be open to the public until Oct. 30.