I first got to know Juliet's work through her "Men I have Known" series which I just fell in love with. She has a unique ability to make art that makes us smirk with recognition and connection to her experiences. She has a certain wit and charm that comes through in her titles and forms that makes her viewers personally connect. I hope you enjoy getting to know her work as much as I have, and for those in or near NY & NJ, you're in luck, she's got an amazing show up in Trenton right now and more coming to NYC in the near future!
A good sense of humor seems to be important to you in your work, can you tell us why that is? Where does your sense of humor come from?
Women get chided for being too sensitive, especially when dealing with gender politics. “Lighten up.” “Don’t you know how to take a joke?” When I present my ideas in satiric form, I want people to feel like they’re in on the joke. Are they laughing for the “wrong” reasons? That’s okay. A light, accessible presentation may make the viewer less defensive and more able to consider the underlying issue. Laugh till you cry!
What's the funniest / strangest comment you've gotten about your work?
It is a tossup between two:
In my collection “Men I Have Known,” as the title suggests, the works were inspired by men I have, ahem, “known.” I am still friends with one of those guys. He asked if he could put a photo of his sculpture on his online-dating page.
I was talking with my mom and a mutual friend. The friend asked, “Why is so much of your work about sex?” My mom shrugged and said, “Well, do what you know.”
Your adaptive Japanese philosophy of SAORI is interesting and unique, how did you get introduced to this? What intrigued you about it?
When I began Saori weaving, its principle “there are no mistakes” was so different from how I approached work before. If there are no rules, no mistakes, how do you know what not to do? If “everything is Saori,” as some said, did I start doing Saori that day? Or have I always been doing it? Is awareness the only indicator? I understood the intention, but I needed to create my own mantra of “no mistakes.”
Saori’s ease of expression is so direct that it makes inspiration almost instantly material. After I weave I see patterns. Yet I don’t always know what my next choice will be. That is how I make mistakes.
What was the biggest "mistake" you've ever had in your career or creative process? How did you remedy it?
I wanted to make a large, woven wrap for the fall. Abroad, I purchased some very expensive, fancy yarns. I worked with them on the loom for days. After, I dropped it in boiling water and then dried it in a hot dryer. BIG MISTAKE. When I pulled it out of the dryer, it was one-third the size of the original piece, and resembled mold a little too accurately. I was devastated. All my work lost in my over-enthusiasm for a process.
How did I fix that mistake? By making more! When I’m afraid of making a mistake, my decisions become timid. If your work is so flawless that you can’t touch it, you’ve lost control. It’s your decision. Take it. I have received more compliments on that piece of wearable art than any other I have made.
How do you feel about the rhetoric of "craft" vs "art" and how does that apply to your process and concepts behind your exhibits?
Is it art or craft? Is she pretty or smart? Forcing weakness in one to define the other cheapens both. Skill and thought are not zero-sum.
What do you do when in a creative rut?
I work in series. I come up with an idea, then work through it, making individual pieces that are different answers to the same question. The end of an idea plunges me into what I call “weaving purgatory,” that terrible place before the beginning of the next concept. I am always in a pissy mood for those months. But I don’t stop working. I weave constantly, going down pointless paths and forced concepts. My friends awkwardly smile as I propose unresolved, immature ideas to them. Although it feels like a good idea will never come, I just don’t stop.
Train for the marathon. Don’t sit waiting for the next race without training. Keep those creative muscles working.
Photo credit: Samuel Allison
What are your favorite female artists?
Louise Bourgeois, Pipilotti Rist, Kiki Smith
I like men artists, too.
Bruce Nauman, Mike Kelley, Terry Winters
Any upcoming events you'd like to share?
My Eyes Are Down Here
19 Everett Alley
Trenton, NJ 08611
January 21 - February 18
Reception: January 28, 6-8pm
ARTIST TALK at Artworks
February 4, 1:00 - 4:00pm
Saori Weaving and Satire, artist talk
New York Guild of Handweavers
The School of Visual Arts
Room 602C, 133 West 21st St. (bet. 6th & 7th Ave)
New York, NY
February 25, 1:00pm
My Eyes Are Down Here
St Peter’s Gallery, Living Room Gallery
Saint Peter's Church
619 Lexington Avenue, at 54th St.
New York, NY 10022-4610
April – June, 2017
To learn more about Juliet Martin and her wonderful work, please visit her website: http://www.julietmartin.com/
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