JOSEPH A HLADIK
ATHLETE, ARTIST, EDUCATOR
Artist Cultural Statement
As an artist and storyteller I am interested in discussion topics of identity and how those identities are constructed and communicated in relation to the environment. I have observed through my own experiences this sort of performance that occurs in which identities are presented in direct response to the space and environment they currently occupy. I find that these roles of identity that are taken on seem to adjust depending on the interactions they are experiencing.
I think it best to first consider my own relevance to these topics and placement in this conversation. I am young, white, an artist, and an athlete. I am a human. I am a man. I participate in a society that is established on a series of temporary interactions. I come from a supportive family and have always been active and competitive. It is very clear to me that this still remains a large portion of my identity. The embrace of competition is something that has bled from athletics into almost every realm of my consciousness. I am an athlete, a coach, and more specifically a swimmer. In this regard I feel as though I can also attach the label of “performer” to my identity.
As I spent the majority of my undergraduate degree either studying the mechanics and dynamics of the human body or testing these same abilities on my own body, I developed an acute awareness of the physicality of my body. I learned not only the composition of my anatomy but how my body responds to an environment, especially those that encompass some sort of stress or impact. Whether it be jumping through the air, pulling through the water, or standing in a crowded gym I understood my environment and the impact I could have on it. I feel as though the physical body is used to communicate one’s sense of self and identity. There is a vulnerability and an honesty that goes into displaying who you are through your physical self. I think this is important to consider, especially when we begin to question how these physical identities operate in a space that calls for comparison and how these identities interact.
I have questions about how non-straight athletes operate in the realm of sport because of the expansive history of being a cultural institution that is notorious for perpetuating hegemonic masculinity. I think the performative nature as well as media exploitation creates a culture that extends beyond the culture of sport. I am curious how these masculine identities are constructed in athletes but also how these are enforced. With very few major professional athletes coming forward as gay in their athletic careers, I would like to examine the institution of sport and try to understand why this may be.
I am also interested in critically examining the vernacular environments in which sport exists while being mindful of our placement in a space and how we as performers and participants add to the conversation. The presence of the physical body activates a space in relation to other objects, or even other bodies. This interaction becomes a sort of performance where we are participating as both actor and audience. These interactions are temporary but it is in these moments where I find something artful worth considering.
I use my art practice as a means of self-reflection on my observations, experiences, and participation in the world around me. My art comes from a personal place that positions my identity into a larger conversation. I offer up my perspective as a way to make the abstract into something tangible. I believe there is something artful in all facets of life. It is through art that we begin to understand.
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
SEC Brad Davis Community Service Leader of the Year
NCAA Division I All-American
2 Time Recipient of the Pohlkamp Award of Academic Integrity and Attitude
Recipient of the Roads Scholarship for Research and Travel
3-Time University of Missouri Record Holder
SEC and Big XII Commissioner's Honor Roll
"Most Decorated Athlete in LTHS history"-The Doings