Julie Goldstein’s art practice draws inspiration based on personal experiences that reside in storytelling, humor and whimsical interpretations around motherhood, marriage and everyday life. The stories told are often semi-autobiographical and are inspired by her personal relationships along with lively depictions of women throughout history and in a variety of societies that have collaborated to break societal norms, create change, empower and inspire. In multimedia works on paper and fabric, she mixes lithographic and woodcut printmaking along with text, stitching and embroidery techniques. She has exhibited widely nationally and internationally since 1998, including several solo exhibitions since 2008. Her work has appeared in Adventure Journal, NYLON Magazine, BLUE Magazine, Honey Magazine, Surfline, Surfer Girl Magazine, Daily Candy, Drift Magazine, NEast Magazine, Better Homes and Garden and Apartment Therapy, as well as a featured artist in the documentary Hanging Five. She collaborated with BING, BEAMS, AXXE, ROXY, Alternative Apparel, REEF, Patagonia and VUORI, creating everything from textile designs for apparel and wetsuits to skateboard decks. She has received honors from the Long Beach Island Foundation for the Arts and the Printmaking Council of New Jersey. Julie teaches Printmaking at California State University San Marcos and currently resides with her husband Mark Tesi and son Francesco in Encinitas, California.
As a visual artist and printmaker, I create works that “document” the people, their memories, activities, interests, and surroundings that then memorialize and inform my personal life. My practice is closely linked to the natural environment, ranging from my home in Southern California, my childhood memories growing up on the beach in Long Beach Island, New Jersey, and my experiences living and working in New York City for many years. Distinct contrasts in these settings, relationships, colors, and material textures all find their way one or another into my work and my production methods.
The most revealing aspect of this multifaceted approach is the central role that printmaking plays in my creative practice. The entire process—from conception to carving an image to inking and “spooning” a print—is intrinsically woven into and with my life as an artist. I carry small blocks of pine and poplar with me wherever I travel to serve as drawing surfaces on which I can quickly record the changing environment around me and note creative ideas. I relish the tactile process of incising and carving an image into these wooden surfaces, making the entire opportunity a wonderfully portable activity.
The images I choose to record come from lived experience, for example, motherhood, relationships, and my time spent in the sea rowing, surfing and swimming. The faces of friends and family (whether from memory or actual photographs) are deeply connected to the depictions of women throughout history and the variety of different societies that have collaborated to break societal norms, create change, empower, and inspire. The stories I tell are often semi-autobiographical, based on historical facts and inspired by personal relationships and my own range of experiences.
I practice a physically intensive form of woodblock printmaking that is closely related to ancient Japanese techniques. I load my woodcuts with oil-based inks and use a wooden spoon to hand burnish the print substrate over the plate. My prints are made on rice or heavy cotton rag papers and produced in editions of three. Currently, I work using a large format, using 4-x-6 ft. sheets of plywood to produce portraits and other images. The intense, even masculine, physicality of my process—jigsaws, carving tools, plywood, etc.—bears an important content relationship to my artwork. I enjoy exploring the masculine/feminine (sharp/soft) contrasts in content and process that are evident in my work, and try to accentuate their interplay.
Recently, I’ve been working with thrift-store fabrics as substrates for my printing and embroidery, further emphasizing the juxtaposition of gender- based categories, often referred to as, “women’s work.” Far from being antagonistic, this new body of work is an ironic, but playful, form of devotion that honors the beautifully stitched handwork of both my mother and my grandmother.
Other influences of mine are firmly rooted in the history of the printed image. German Expressionist printmakers and illustrators from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are most prominent, specifically their approach to rendering the figure with a forced perspective and variable proportions. Likewise, the dynamic revival in postwar printmaking that was initiated by Antonio Frasconi has influenced my affinity for bold images, vibrant colors, and the marked evidence of process and the hand (i.e., the variations found in printing, strongly grained wooden plates, and spoon marks).
Lastly, my sensitivity to the subtle variations of color found in nature and the built environment greatly influence my choices as an artist, ranging from the sea blues and greens of ink to creating assemblages with fabric and paper and/or stitching and binding intricately stitched artists books. Fundamentally, the qualities of my work surfaces are as important to me as the content of their images— both derive from my life; personal experiences, memories, and stories and are deeply rooted in my passion to inspire the viewer to feel empowered, recall a memory, and most importantly feel more connected to their own truth and how art can manifest into a unique and remarkable honesty for every individual.
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