Strength, Balance, Courage, and Reason
by Julia Hall
STRENGTH, BALANCE, COURAGE, AND REASON (2009)
Paper, acrylic, paint, cotton, thread, and wood
11″ x 6″
28 x 15.2 cm
Art By Julia Hall
Julia Hall is a mixed media artist who divides her time between Philadelphia and New York. After graduating with a degree in painting and drawing from the University of the Arts, Ms. Hall decided to switch her focus from two dimensional work to three dimensional work that deals with the classic questions of painting and illusion. Ms. Hall has contributed to several publications and shown her visual artwork widely in several cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles, and London.
My art is fueled by sleep deprivation and mystical mundane moments. I often use images that have to do with exuberant play, swimming, swinging, jumping, running, dancing… all activities that allow humans to come as close as possible to flying. The figures in my work are suspended in air, breaking barriers, stabbing at immortality, a need to feel that our happiest moments will actually last forever.
My recent work combines traditional drawing and painting techniques with embroidery. As my work moves into three dimensional forms I have continued to explore the central themes of traditional painting. At their essence my work deals with illusion, the classic question and challenge of painting. At first glance many of my pieces appear to be still moments, people frozen in active motion. But within the context of the spaces the work is displayed in, the negetive space of the work is alive with movement. As the light in the room changes, the shadows of my figures delicately dance around their "flesh" counterparts, living a life of their own.
I am obsessed with birds, both their beautiful movements and their communications with each other. To the human ear most bird sounds are cheerful, with a sort of empty headed quality to them. But birds hear twelve notes to every one that we perceive. To birds their calls are much more lyrical and mournful than what we can hear, closer to the noises whales make, sounding more like sentences uttered in another language than chirps. The secrets of their sounds and the freedom of their movements fascinate me.
Within art, one of my major influences is antique oriental carpets. At first glance, many carpet designs appear to be totally symmetrical, but as the viewer examines the patterns further one finds that they are in fact not symmetrical at all. A flower in one area may be moved over slightly, represented in different colors, or completely absent on the corresponding side. It is as if each rug contains a blatant secret, they appear to be one thing but are filled with a richness that continues to deepen with each subsequent viewing. Often times, more than one woman would work on a single rug, and this would result in the beautiful inconsistencies in the overall patterning. To me these inconsistencies serve as a good metaphor for life, the ideal is often outshone by the imperfect, which is always more interesting anyway.
Much of my work is shaped by my experiences as an American, and the ideas American citizens share about what the future should or can be. To me the American dream is a lovely notion, the idea that if one works hard enough there is nothing but flight ahead. These days, "American dream" is a phrase that often ends with a question mark. Suddenly we are feeling our way through the dark, redefining our ideas of what we are and where we are going, reevaluating what it means to be an American. But maybe it has always been this way. The American dream has always been more about hope than success or consistency. This dream is tangled up in my work; and like the birds and the carpets, the nuances of existence are often more valuable than initial perceptions and overall impressions. I am enamored with this way of looking at the world, and I try to capture these fragile qualities in my work.