In early 2015, Joshua Winston arrived on the steps of a rehabilitation center in Fredericksburg, Texas, with little more than a bag of clothes. Early adulthood had proven to be unkind to him, beginning with a career-ending football injury and ending with an unfinished education and a lengthy affair with substance abuse. With no phone, no car, and no idea what the hell he was doing, Winston felt lost, broken. Unbeknownst to him, in just a few months he would discover a creative outlet that seemed to perfectly reflect this raw sense of fragility and vulnerability: eggshells.
Though Winston never received formal training, he says he’s always had a creative disposition, a characteristic others recognized in him as well. Roughly four years, two gallery acceptances, and thousands of dollars in sales later, the budding artist has found his creative niche and purpose in the pain.
“Everyone knew that I had some sort of creative talent, but I never did anything with it. I never went full-fledged into it until I moved to Fredericksburg. It kind of became my new identity; the artist instead of, you know, the fuck-up,” Winston says, as he stands in what was once his apartment’s living room. A couple of tables rest against one wall, covered by layers of shell fragments, several tools, boxes, and bottles. An aisle holds an in-progress piece, and paintings of various sizes decorate the walls.
Let’s address the obvious question you’re dying to ask–why eggshells? Simply put, it’s different. The medium brings a certain uniquely “animated” quality that can be difficult to accomplish in static pieces. Upon seeing his work for the first time, my mind immediately went to barnacles. That sounds weird to say, but there really is an essence of vitality that radiates from these pieces, making them look otherworldly and alive.
His sculptures also follow his own narrative arc, in some ways. As the eye moves from the edge to the center of his canvas, the tiny shards seemingly become whole. It’s like watching an entire metamorphosis unfold within the confines of a 20 by 30 canvas.
“I got deep into substance abuse, and eventually, I escaped to the Hill Country in Fredericksburg. I just left and hit the restart button. That’s when I started doing the eggshells,” Winston says. “It was kind of this subconscious thing, about taking all the broken pieces in my life and putting them back together into something that’s valuable.”
Winston currently has pieces at the Good Art Company in Fredericksburg, and at the Stacie Hernandez Gallery on Dragon Street in the Design District. Winston’s desire to keep growing and get his name in the ears of new clientele prompted his move to Dallas. Reflecting on where he started–the lost and deflated young man on the steps of the rehabilitation center–to where he is now, an up-and-coming artist with a couple of gallery features under his belt, Winston is hungry for more.
“Everybody gets hit, everybody gets hurt, something happens. Literally, nobody escapes that. You don’t have to be tormented by that hurt, you can acknowledge it and make it into something beautiful and help someone else,” Winston says. “This is my dream, and I’m not gonna let go of it.”