Joseph Rafferty speaks in abstraction.
Thriving on the sunshine of his Bohemian mother’s love, Joseph’s nonlinear and free imprinting occurred within counterculture’s birthplace, San Francisco, a land of a thousand languages, and a thousand sexualities.
When he was eight, his mother died. She went on vacation to Hawaii, and returned in a coffin. The boy was immediately uprooted from his free and love-filled life, and forced to live with a freshly born-again Christian father, who became Joseph’s newly self-appointed spiritual leader. An environmental lawyer who didn’t ensure the safety of his own child’s environment, Joseph’s father (along with his step-mother) silenced individuality, demanded polite compliance, and kept a still-grieving child tethered to linear thinking. In this environment, Joseph did not develop the art of verbal expression. He quickly learned to swallow his truth and hide his pain. Photography became a powerful thread of connection to his emotion and spiritual ideas, laced with the harsh realities of a flawed culture and the ironies within his family's worldview. Photography was an open window in his prison, giving fresh breath to a starving soul, and it became a pivotal foundation in his metamorphosis. Visual art provided the theatre of the mind with a stage, creating space for growth and transformation beyond the stifling shell that threatened to entomb.
When his mom passed - her fashion colleagues & community sent words of condolences + small gifts of money. During his military enlistment, Joseph would return to the photography store his mom frequented. With the small gifts of cash from letters of condolence, he purchased large & medium format cameras and tripods. If I purchase cameras she’s always with me. In doing so, he channels her instrumental spirit - a spirit guiding him from the pain and anger of his youth, and leading to light. Through the loving memory of her unconditional support, Joseph found a peace and purpose in life. He remains grounded in relationships with his children, mindful of certain pitfalls in our culture, and dedicated to the unedited, true expression of his unique experience.