Earlier this month I was able to see Julie's work for the first time at the Headlands Center for the Arts' exhibit Close Calls. There she is exhibiting wallpaper pieces hung from the ceiling in long thin strips. It was great to be able to catch her later for some questions about where this work came from.
"In 1998 I began an aesthetic investigation around culture and feminist identity, which was fueled by personal and academic inquiry. The resulting works, which include large-scale multi-paneled paintings, installations, CAD drawings, and video projections, investigate the mass consumption and commodification of Asian culture in our country. They explore the nature of identity as an imposed character, and my conflict as an Asian American woman, an exoticized desired object."
Can you tell us about your life growing up as a female Chinese-American in Orange County, California?
For the most part, it was pretty painful. I came of age in a predominantly upper middle class white community. This experience complicated my sense of self and created an often excruciating experience of simultaneously being inside and outside.
At what point did you decide to have your art centered around "issues of identity in relation to race, gender, class, and the commodification of culture?" What is the importance of this to you?
It was less a decision and more a response to my own need to reconcile my confusion, frustration, anger, even ambivalence about these issues. I continue to pay attention to these pieces because they affect who we are and how we relate to one another. I can't think of anything more interesting.
I like the way you hung the show at Bucheon Gallery in January 2006. The long thin pieces, hanging from the ceiling that curl at the ends, remind me of fabric stores I visited as a child with my mother. Is there a significance in displaying them and others this way?
The wallpaper samples operate as an imperfect commodities. The form implies a domestic function and application, while the intrusion of disparate and fractional meanings serve to create a new space for alternative interpretation. In displaying them this way, they start to become the very things about which I am attempting to create a dialogue.
What was your experience in studying at Parsons in France? How did it affect your art work? From there, you moved on to several other well established schools. Through all your education what/who do you do you value the most?
I took an illustration course while I was there, which turned out to be a horrible fit. This helped me get some clarity around why I was drawn to art making in the first place; not as means to an end, but rather to be part of an ongoing conversation. What I value most about my education in general is how it taught me to both question and seek truth - in the same instant.
I am interested in understanding more about your technique in creating each piece. The layers you create compliment each other and give way to textured meanings. Why do you mainly use the medium of acrylic paint?
Primarily for the non-toxic clean-up and quick drying time. I also incorporate commercial house paint and the use of silkscreens, both of which are much easier for me to handle in their water-based form and application.
What is the next goal you have for your art or life?
To integrate them more. Really.