As neuroscientist Bessel A. van der Kolk states, “the only way we can change how we feel is by learning to befriend what is going on inside ourselves.” Befriending what goes on inside ourselves is how we connect with each other and the larger natural world, but in the Western capitalist system, we separate the brain from the body, tie shame to our most basic physical functions, and see ourselves as machines of production. Diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at a young age, my work has always been a visual exploration of my gut instinct. In my work, I explore what happens to connection when the body is “beheaded,” and the innate sensory wisdom we possess. My work draws from personal histories of shame and unsightly symptoms, navigating a broken healthcare system – literally on steroids – and eventually finding my way back into my body. I am a storyteller and my work is at once deeply biographical and metaphorical; a shared experience that empowers the viewer with an understanding of their own existence as a corporeal being in a vast and interconnected world.
My background is in the socio-politically conscious tradition of printmaking, and I combine printmaking techniques with painting and collage to make vibrant, many-layered mixed media compositions. Stylistically, I embrace masters of elaborate grotesque such as Hieronymus Bosch and Henry Darger, Judith Bernstein’s fearless confrontation of gender and male aggression, the intimacy of ex-votos and home altars, and Frida Kahlo’s powerful and vulnerable self-portraits. Conceptually, I embrace Betye Saar’s commonly employed phrase “Extreme times call for extreme heroines.” I seek to confront the challenges of our dangerously disembodied culture through highly-crafted prints and paintings meant to reconnect us with our inner worlds, each other, and the substance of ourselves.
Julia Curran is a multi-disciplinary artist with a background in the socio-politically conscious tradition of printmaking. Through her experiences dealing with an auto-immune disease from a young age, she has developed a fascination with what it means to be in touch with one’s body in a disembodied culture, our presumption of agency over flesh, and the interconnected health of our internal and shared environments. Recent works feature Mother Nature embodied as a cast of anatomical and anthropomorphic figures such as trees, suns, bones, roots, seedlings, volcanoes, digestive systems, and underground monsters – each perpetuating cycles of life and death, as well as humorous remixes of old myths. Her intricate and precise craftsmanship combines painting, printmaking, and collage; Curran calls for us to look within and around, and to find resilience through celebrating our fleshy, sexual, abject, mortal, celestial, and interdependent nature.
Curran (b. 1988) received her MFA from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in 2015, and her BFA from Truman State University in Kirksville, MO in 2010. In 2011-12, she was a Fulbright scholar in Paris, France where she apprenticed with artists throughout the country and led international collaborative curatorial projects. She has exhibited work widely including at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne, IN; Rochester Contemporary Art Center, Rochester, NY; El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, TX; Musée Roger Quillot, Clermont-Ferrand, France; Gallery 210, University of Missouri- Saint Louis, Saint Louis, MO; and Chace Gallery at Emory University, Atlanta, GA. Her work has been published in Hey! Magazine, Create Magazine, Studio Visit Magazine, and Friend of the Artist. In 2021, she was an artist-in-residence at Tongue River Art Residency in Dayton, WY. Curran lives and works in Saint Louis, MO.