Artist Juliet Martin
Juliet Martin has a BA in Visual Arts from Brown University, a MFA in Computer Art from the
School of Visual Arts, and is a member of the Saori Leadership Committee based in
Her career as an artist began with creating web-based art pieces recognized around the
world, including by SIGGRAPH and The New York Times. Challenging how people saw
websites, she added irony to the medium.
Ironically, it was through online searching that she found textiles. Juliet discovered a weaving studio whose Japanese philosophy is “there are no mistakes.”
As in her digital practice, she challenges the function of the medium. Her process focuses on
aesthetics instead of rules. Juliet cuts up and puts back together her weavings. She takes
something precious and re-contextualizes it.
For the past 9 years she has been a part of the fiber community, having solo shows
including at Ivy Brown Gallery, New York City; Chashama, New York City; Living Room,
St. Peter’s Church, New York City; Sumei Center, Newark, NJ; Creative Arts Workshop,
New Haven, CT; Garrison Art Center, Garrison, NY; Artworks Gallery, Trenton, NJ; and
Saori Kaikan Gallery, Osaka, Japan.
I sculpt fiber memoirs. I’m not drawing figures, I’m capturing feelings. The pieces
include weaving, sewing, and illustration to tell my stories with visual one-liners and
satire. I am not always funny, but I am always sincere.
Starting from nothing, I use my loom to create a canvas, a blank screen, with no model.
I do not disguise my process: the yarn, the pins, the threads are exposed. Working with
my hands reveals how I feel while I am working as well as how I work. I’m in an open
relationship. My materials and my mission are for everyone to see. Weaving is my noun
and my verb.
I turn on my weavings, cut them up, rearrange them, paint on them. Risking everything,
I deconstruct what I make and make it into something new, something sexy. Precarious
situations are exhilarating.
I love to draw. I love to write. Note-taking, I record emotions through words and images.
I combine visual notation with journal-scrawls. I create comic illustrations that speak to
me, and then they tell you what I meant. I print the images on fabric and sew them on
my chopped-up weavings. These drawings bandage the notes to the fabric, healing the
wounds I inflicted.
Bringing together my sculptures is an integrated process creating cohesive, humorous
pictures of myself. An eyeball covered in self-deprecating scrawl: Funny-ha-ha? Funny-
awkward? Funny-uncomfortable? Using humor as a sling for heavy subjects, it is easier
for me to make a joke to convey a serious subject. Humor is the white-glove touch to
bring people in. Inside that fabric is the serious me. My moods come out as colors. I can
bring together bright blue bodies and raveled pink tassels, redefining what colors feel
like – cheery blues, depressed pinks. I combine colors, patterns, textures to propose
questions and answers.
You will see me when you see my work.
1: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background in the arts.
I’m based in Brooklyn, and that feels so far away from my upbringing in suburban New Jersey. In school I studied under the umbrella of visual art. For graduate school I focused on computer art. My career as an artist began with creating web-based art pieces. [LINK: http://julietmartin2.com/oooxxxooo/Answer.html ] But my fingers on the keyboard grew weary; I needed touch. Ironically, it was through online searching that I found weaving. I was trained in the Japanese weaving philosophy of Saori. Saori has a Zen mindset, encouraging freeform work—no patterns, no rules, no mistakes; very different than the structures dictating computer-driven work.
2: What kind of work are you currently making?
At the beginning of the Coronavirus, I noticed my newest drawings were of household items: pots, lamps, telephones. It turned out I was looking to connect with my possessions the way I use to find comfort in people. Coronavirus makes me worry: What if my partner disappeared? So “Household Items Remind Me of You,” my current collection, addresses the concept of loss. If you leave me, can I keep from being alone?
Now I draw portraits of my apartment. Is the still life the only life I have?
I assemble my handwoven fabric and store-bought samples to create a base. I sew handwritten words of despair into the work. This combination of textiles and language creates a canvas for the illustrated objects, evoking quilts or collages. I am predicting the future, a montage, told with text, images, fabric, and fear.
3: What is a day like in the studio for you?
I’m so type-A. I have a very strict schedule. I start off each day reading art theory. I follow that with a timer-set period of drawing. Now I’m filling a diary with spindly figures colored in with highlighter yellow, pink, and green. The reading and drawing are calisthenics for the day. I spend the rest of the day weaving, drawing, painting or pulling it all together. While I’m weaving, I focus on textures and when I’m drawing, I focus on lines. It is as if my brain is dissected into unique parts that all feed on different parts of my process. Imposing a regular structure gives my mind the freedom it needs to be creative. Not worried about what I will do next, I am able to explore my process without interference.
4: What are you looking at right now and/or reading?
I’m reading the essays by Nancy Spero in her Phiadon catalog. Her writing is concise and accessible. You read it once and understand it. You read it again because you love it. She wrote, “I would like to believe I am creating images of poetic ritual.” To me, this addresses the importance of the visual as prose.
5: Where can we find more of your work?
I’m in the winter issue of Fiber Art Now magazine. The article, Excellence in Fiber, is a yearly collection of textile artists. My website is http://julietmartin.com. If you need something lighter, my Instagram account is http://instagram.com/remotelyjuliet