Joseph Crawford Pile
Why am I compelled to draw trucks raising hell, dirtbikes peeling out, and army helicopters racing across the canvas? I grew up on a farm in rural Kentucky, deep in the sticks. We only had a handful of neighbors. There were very few children around that were my age, except my siblings.
We weren’t allowed to watch much television.
Until I got my driver’s license, I spent my summers on the farm. The most exciting thing around was the monstrously large and loud machinery used to work the farm: the jacked-up 4×4 trucks and the off-road dirtb ikes and 4-wheelers. In the country, everything is very quiet and still. So when a mammoth combine harvester thunders by your house, shooting up big black plumes of smoke and rumbling out a deep raspy diesel groan, it gets noticed.
Our driveway merged with the highway at a sharp right angle. To make this turn, cars had to slow down almost to a stop. Some locals used to this as an opportunity to burn out, loudly. Thick woods lined nearly the entire perimeter of our property. We couldn’t see our neighbors, but we could hear their 4-wheelers and dirtbikes.
We lived in between Fort Campbell and Fort Knox. Military planes and helicopters frequently buzzed our house. When I heard them coming, I’d drop what I was doing and run outside to stare in awe. I still run out to watch the airshow when I’m visiting the farm.
It’s common for people to think of vehicles’ relationship to humanity, and, in a broader sense, the natural world, as an antagonistic one. 4×4 Dreams is my attempt to capture the primal beauty I see in these machines.
Joseph Crawford Pile grew up on a pig farm in rural Kentucky and was raised in the house his great-grandfather built in 1874. His great-grandfather bought the land with the wealth passed down from his grandfather, who received a land grant in Kentucky for his service in the Revolutionary War.
Pile dreams about the farm every night. Usually the dreams are a mix of family members and peers from his formative years, all set on the farm with a desperate apocalyptic theme. He has spent his life trying to interpret these dreams, to gain insight into his personal, emotional, and psychic identity and his place in the world.
Pile’s mother is an artist, and as a child he watched her paint portraits, landscapes and still lifes. She fostered his interest in the arts and enrolled him into summer art programs as a teenager, which lead him to art school as a young adult.
Pile lives in Baltimore, Maryland.