Joseph Cobbs (b. 1991) is a quintessential Outsider artist. Though quiet and unassuming, his studious portraits display the kind of ethereal quality that collectors of folk and intuit work prize most. Perhaps unintentionally, these self-portraits reflect the blackface style that prevailed in United States theater and art until the mid-twentieth century. Since the artist himself speaks little, it is impossible to know whether this reference is deliberate (satire) or inadvertent – a demonstration of the artist’s style and skill alone. However, what remains in the viewer’s mind’s eye after looking at his work is the simple clean design, and unsuspecting intensity of the eyes. Cobbs is a member artist in Esperanza Community Services art program, and joined Project Onward in addition in 2013. He lives in North Lawndale.

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Project Onward is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that seeks to promote art as a powerful tool for understanding and valuing the real and potential contributions of our national population with disabilities.

©2019 by Project Onward

Bridgeport Art Center

1200 W. 35th St., 4th Floor

Chicago, IL 60609

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