2018 Viola Award Finalist for Excellence in the Visual Arts
Flagstaff Photographer and Educator Joe Cornett presented the exhibition Roundball Religion at Criollo Latin Kitchen in September 2017. This body of work is a photographic exploration of rustic and makeshift basketball hoops and playgrounds found throughout the United States.
A native Arizonan, Cornett works and lives in Flagstaff. He teaches digital photography at Flagstaff High School and Coconino Community College. He earned his MFA with an emphasis in photography from the San Francisco Art Institute, and his BFA from Arizona State University. Cornett was selected as the Artist of the Month by the National Art Museum of Sport in September 2013. He has shown his work throughout the United States, including shows at the Tucson Art Museum and Anderson Ranch Arts Center.
To many people, basketball is a religion. The sport is a major part of their lives and in some ways defines a collective lifestyle. Playing the game of basketball becomes a necessity to life. The backboard and court become a fixed part of the yard and have just as much importance and function as a clothesline on the lawn or a car in the driveway. This collection of images started on the reservations and mountain regions of the southwest and has now spread to the farmlands of Indiana, Kansas and more states in the Midwest. The idea is to further explore and include the urban environments of big city basketball so that the project encompasses all cultures and regions that play the game.
I like to focus my photography on the homemade and improvised basketball hoops that I discover. The element of time takes over and these backboards become relics within the space that they stand. I also appreciate how each hoop is created. The handmade quality adds to overall aesthetic and proves that some people will go to great lengths to build a rim or a court so that they can play.
The space around the court and the location of each of one of these basketball playgrounds has become a very important aspect of the project as well. Rather than only focusing on the detailed close up of the subjects, I include the area where these hoops reign, giving more insight on the region and the culture that plays there.
The newest addition to this project will be to collect and include the stories behind each hoop and why the game is so important to those who play on it.
Click on a thumbnail for a larger image: