Flootie Reporter Ginny Brennan is at it again! Read the Interview below from award winning artist Julie Gautier-Downes.
Ginny – When did you start creating installations and using photography as your art?
Julie – I have always been making things and in 2002 while in New York, I attended the Fame School. I began painting in oils and at the same time started with my photography. When I was in college, I became serious about photography and stopped painting entirely. For a few years, I worked exclusively in photography until I started doing installations and which incorporate photographs into built environments. That is the process that I am most excited about now because it engages the viewer through other senses (like smell and touch) and it has the potential to transport a viewer somewhere else.
Ginny – As a kid what did you want to be?
Julie – I wanted to be an anthropologist. I loved history and was fascinated in what we can learn about others in what is left behind. This interest in artifacts seems to have led me to be what I am today.
Ginny – What have been your greatest accomplishments or proudest achievements?
Julie – Being able to attend the Rhode Island School of Design for Graduate School is something that I am proud of. They receive hundreds of applications and only admitted six people into the program. I feel that without going to graduate school, I would still be an artist, but I would not have progressed as quickly or understood myself as an artist as deeply as I do now.
Ginny – What has been your biggest break?
Julie – I was recently awarded a Grant for Artist Projects Award from the Artist Trust. The grant will allow me to purchase materials and equipment that I will be able to use in several new installations.
Ginny – What inspires your works?
Julie – A fire in 2009 of my childhood home and also moving around a lot after my parents split up. In 2008 when I was deciding on college I chose UC Santa Cruz Art Department, during the spring of freshman year my childhood home was destroyed in a fire. That experience has inspired me to document and recreate domestic environments in my photographs and installations.
Ginny – Are there practical things you do each day that help you stay “art” focused?
Julie – The beauty of social media and how I’m constantly inundated with images that inspire me. I began reviewing Craig’s List to see what people are selling as it relates to the environment. I’m always amazed at where the seller chooses to photograph their couch or what they leave laying around in a trailer that is for sale.
Ginny – Is there a particular artist you relate to?
Julie – Yes I relate to Edward Kienholz, an Idaho-based artist who also did sculptures and created tableaus which existed in between sculpture and installation. He actually used a Spokane storefront from East Sprague Avenue as an installation, that piece is now at the Missoula Art Museum. He also spent time working in Berlin, Germany.
Ginny – What has been the toughest lesson or toughest time you’ve experienced?
Julie – When I was in Graduate School I was the only west coast student and had to travel back and forth to photograph the desert landscape for my work. During the time between my travels I started constructing installations to recreate abandoned homes in my studio to share my experience of being in those spaces with the other students.
Ginny – What is your attitude on life as it relates to your art?
Julie – My creative process is way I process experiences, both good and bad. I try to channel those experiences into something that others can learn from and connect to.
Ginny – What has been your hardest lesson as an artist?
Julie – Figuring out how to be independent and doing the physical aspect of my installations. I don’t like to be reliant on others, but there are limits to my physical strength. Knowing when to ask for help is something I struggle with.
Ginny – How do you feel when people interpret your artwork different?
Julie – I think it’s interesting to hear what they think and what they are experiencing. I had the opportunity to work with children. At one point, I showed them some of my photographs and a young girl was particularly drawn to a diptych of a chair with a snapshot of a young boy. She said that the boy must have been tied up and hurt in the chair.
Ginny – Have you had a light-bulb moment that you can share for aspiring artists?
Julie – The importance of working hard. Often times others make an assumption that what I do is easy and in reality it takes a lot of hard work. When I get stuck creatively, I try to work through it. If you don’t keep working, you’ll never get unstuck.
Julie – I’m constantly putting myself out there celebrating the positive stuff and letting the rejections go. I am blessed to have the support of my family and friends. Also, my cats, they love me no matter what.
Ginny – Do you try to make a statement with your art?
Julie – My work isn’t really about making a statement, but I think about consumerism and our material culture. Today, most of the objects that we use are cheaper to replace than fix or take when we move. I think about how much we throw away or leave behind and what the long term ramifications of that behavior will be when we run out of places to dump our waste.
Ginny – Where is your art being shown or has it been shown?
Julie – In Spokane, I have shown at the Saranac Art Projects, the Brick Wall Photography Gallery, Terrain, the Iron Goat Brewery, the Little Dog Art Gallery, Interiors by Robin, and the Spokane International Airport. I am currently working on installations for a solo show at the Richmond Art Gallery in December. In 2017, I have shows at Dean Davis Photography Gallery, the Little Dog Art Gallery, and the Chase Gallery in Spokane, the Foundry Art Centre in St. Charles, Missouri, and the Zootown Community Center in Missoula, Montana. You may also view my art at JulieGautierDownes.com