"I want our younger generations to understand that art is more than making pictures," he says. "Questions should come to kids when they look at art. Art is so incredibly important."
Joiner's own art matches up well with his definition. He's currently working on two series that encompass all he believes art should be.
His Dracula Series will be decidedly political: "I'm taking the historical Dracula to represent the working class. I'm going to use that image as a means of interpreting all the types of things that go on in our society."
The other series that Joiner is working on concurrently is his Souls Project. The idea behind it is to depict the African-American experience, with themes from The Wizard of Oz. "We can't click our heels together three times and go home. We have to make home where our heart is. Believe in yourself, and you'll become who you want to be," he explains. "I want to look at us as heroes and survivors who are carrying on this seed of progress. No matter what's done to us, we won't go away.
For Joiner, home is Cincinnati. He likes the accessibility of the city, but he's well aware how divided Cincinnati is racially. Still, he believes the city is quite livable. It's been his home most of his life. His family lives here too, although he lives alone. He admits being too married to his artwork to successfully carry on a relationship.
His dedication to art prompted him to quit the business world in 1997 and commit himself fully to what he believes in. Save for the occasional sleepless night, he hasn't looked back. "I didn't want to wait until I retired to do my art," he says.
He had waited long enough to create. "I was told by my parents that I could draw before I could walk. I drew all my life. That fascination of imitating what I saw. If I drew in public it would draw a big crowd. That gave me a hint that I was a little bit different. I didn't get serious about my art until I was a senior at Wyoming High School," Joiner explains.
He went on to the Cleveland Institute of Art, winning top awards along the way. When he graduated in 1985, the job market was not welcoming. His brother urged him to go to the Xavier University job board, which placed him immediately. What began as a temporary position turned into an 11-year career.
Joiner's artwork was virtually non-existent for a 10-year period. "I woke up in 1995 and literally couldn't stop creating. I had nothing to say about life and when that happens I can't create," he says. "I was always concerned with getting good grades and how the teachers liked me and all that crap. Then I started making loads of mistakes. It resulted in me doing scenes of cemeteries when I first came out."
Though his first love is landscape paintings, Joiner is perhaps best known for his Black Women Series. (Selections of Joiner's artwork can be viewed at www.jump.to/artworks.) He interviewed women from all walks of life and took snapshots of them. Then he would go home and paint what he saw. "No one could see their portrait until opening night. It kind of built a collective self-esteem of that demographic. They get so emotional. They're so happy, so curious on how I interpret them. This year forward, I'm going to be more inclusive of the whole world," Joiner says, as he has done with his recent Angel Series which featured black, white, straight, gay, male and female.
"People were so happy," he continues. "They were surprised. I really like to see people enjoy the arts like that. It opens up a path for me to be more open and experimental."
His artwork is connected to his spiritual beliefs. "I wouldn't say I'm a religious person. I do believe in the Creator. I put a big emphasis on prayer. ... I know from my experience, I know what happens when I pray," he comments.
"I woke up one morning and couldn't stop painting. I realized that I had a purpose. I just didn't know what purpose it served," he elaborates. "Now I know. I guess it's advocacy for a higher being. Life isn't getting to the end of it. It's getting to the good and the bad."
And for that, there can never be too much art. ©