• Pilgrim's Progress

    Oil on canvas
    72'' x 72"  |  2011

  • Descending Spirit

    Oil on canvas
    28" x 36"  |  2009

  • Collosians

    Oil on Canvas
    4' x 6'  |  2010

  • Sunday School Blocks 1

    Oil on paper
    10" X 10"  |  2015

  • Sunday School Blocks 2

    Oil on panel
    10" X !0"  |  2015

  • Sunday School Blocks 3

    Oil on paper
    12" X 12"  |  2015

  • Sunday School Blocks 4

    Oil on paper
    7" x 7"  |  2015

  • Sunday School Blocks 5

    Oil /wax on paper
    7" x 7"  |  2016

  • Greetings Rabbi

    Oil on paper
    3' x 9'  |  2010


Knoxville, TN | Painting, Mixed Media, Drawing

Joe Letitia was born in New Britain, Connecticut on Christmas day, 1960. His childhood home was in the neighboring town of Plainville. There was an abundance of forest and watershed property upon which his home abutted. He attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University from 1980 – 1985, and also attended Graduate School at Yale University from 1987 – 1989. He worked and lived as an artist in New York City for seven years, where he renovated a studio in an old factory space in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, to live and work in. During this period of time, he had four solo exhibitions in N.Y.C. and worked as an assistant for the artist Chuck Close as well as the sculptor/ photographer, Sandy Skogland. His work has also been exhibited in Boston, Chicago, and other locations around the U.S. and Europe. In addition to his exhibitions, he has received a Louis Comfort Tiffany Grant in 1995 and two Scholarships for travel abroad. He moved to Knoxville in 1997 after participating in the visiting artist residency program at the University of Tennessee and has been teaching Studio Art and Art History at the Webb School of Knoxville since 2002. He continues to make art and reside in South Knoxville with his wife Sheila and their three children in a 170-year-old log home.

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Represented here are essentially two bodies of work that resonate around the notion of faith.

The Biblical account of the apostle Thomas, is a clear and visceral depiction of how his belief can only be ratified through not only perception, but also the necessity of a physical encounter. In my mind, this biblical scene and the idea behind it examines the fulcrum point denoting issues of the tangibility of faith. In some regards, this may resonate in the process, complexity and layers of my paintings. This is not to say that the meaning of these works disavow my personal notion of belief, but attest to the intricacy and length of a soul’s pondering.

The idea resonates in both a spiritual or secular way. In our culture, images are vast, vulnerable to manipulation and meaning - so easy to fall to abstraction. Following the trail of a statement from its articulated source to its extrapolated sound bite is often misleading. Like a story that is told so many times it barely exists but in the telling, my process starts with a very clear and singular image, which in itself is still a symbol of an action, which in turn, symbolizes a gesture that desires to prove perception.

The works are made by the repeated replication of this core image. Most often the image is lost in its own profusion. In some works the gesture is isolated and in some pieces, there are many layers done in this manner with transparent glazes painted over them to push each layer back crating a deeper sense of depth and space. Other paintings focus more on the negative space and shapes, as well as the fragments created by the intersecting lines of the images.

The most recent paintings incorporates the same layering process but use the outlines of simple and severe early American churches, who’s structures involve a direct and simple geometry, as opposed to the looping and twisting sensibility incorporated in the Didymus paintings. These works began as 2D meditations on space and color relationships, where forms appear to optically project or recede in space. This lead to the construction of articulated reliefs that physically enhance the optical interplay. Informed by stained glass, the occluded/ open space of a Giacometti drawing and the color play of Paul Klee’s Magic Squares, these works explore perception through the intricacies and length of a soul’s pondering.

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