Art Beat: Art Out Of The Past

Apr 23, 2020

A piece made from a cow's horn by Eric Joseph
Credit Paul Gobble Photography + Design

Eric Joseph lives in the past. When he works in his Richland studio, he creates art inspired by the Middle Ages.

Joseph forges knives, makes mugs, drinking horns, and musical instruments out of antlers, horns, steel, and wood.

He also creates jewelry made from sheet silver, copper, or brass, using soldering and etching techniques. His business is called Griffinstone.

“Long ago, I started down this road of just playing with images from history,” Joseph says. “Earlier on, I started working with cast cement. They were all inspired from architecture, the kinds of things you see carved in architecture of what I guess we would call the Old World, medieval Europe, much of it inspired by Early Medieval and High Medieval art, which was largely on buildings. But then I got more and more fascinated by the Early Medieval period, from Anglo-Saxon and Viking cultures.”

A display dagger made by Eric Joseph
Credit Paul Gobble Photography + Design

Joseph says the industrial age has removed the spirit of the person who creates an object. But in earlier times, every object created, whether utilitarian or a work of art, was imbued with something of its creator. He hopes to bring back the connection between creator and created object with his work.

“More and more I’m aware that we live in a time driven by mass production,” he says. “We have no real connection to the things that are around us. There’s no human touch there, there’s no one person that makes these things.”

Every piece Joseph creates is unique, created by hand from raw materials. While not precise historical reproductions, the pieces all are inspired by history.

Joseph does custom work but also participates every year in Western Michigan University’s annual International Congress on Medieval Studies. His work can also be found at the Signature Artist Cooperative in Kalamazoo and various trade shows throughout southwest Michigan.

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