It always starts out like that. Dear Laura,
If you're a member of my family, a dyed-in-the-wool Murphy, then you know what I mean. And then, sometimes... we're wrong.
Today was one of those days.
I got the letter today that makes me the Official Gallery Assistant. (We know I had started doing the job-and happily, happily!) I get more hours, more moolala, a tuition waiver and most happily more interesting things to do!
Weeks ago, we begun sifting through the accepted petitions for the upcoming gallery schedule. Top on the list was Julia Fenton! I have spoken with her several times on the phone and I am thrilled to be making her aquaintence and assisting with this installation next Spring. She seems quite delightful and spirited.
In the event that you find her work a bit cryptic, I found a very good description of it in an essay by Daniell Brandt:
"When you first see it you don't know what to think. Disgust, outrage, and above all curiosity travel through out your mind. As your eye travels over every corner and crevice of the room, familiar objects from everyday life appear to you as if in some twisted dream. In front of you appears a wall, which seems to talk to you and draw you in by its whispers of milk that flows from a drinking fountain. A construction light fixed above flashes like the pulse of a heart beat, as it sends its warm yellow glow over the rosy painted surface. As you follow the garden of flowers that outline the wall, it leads you to a string of glowing white lights that separates the room into two. The other side begs you to look closer, however you are blocked. Many objects placed in front of you catch your interest, however a sparkle of gold and glitter catch the corner of your eye. After seeing a room full of foul and unpleasant objects, you are led to many enclosed framed squares of pink paper mache. The sparkle of gold and glitter is created by the salt, urine, feces, and blood that have come together to create this work of art. Each hanging piece is unique in its own way, just like that of a woman. The edges of these squares have been dipped with gold so they sparkle with fury. One appears thick while another's width is slimmer. The rolling clumps of paper mold together, absorbing the blood to create many shades of red and pink. Just inches from your face fantasy becomes reality as you realize that these ignored and even grotesque every day objects make up life and allow it to go on.
It's not hard to believe that such a "sweet, sweet little girl" who grew up in the south, was now making a feminist statement about the social roles and images of women in our society. For over 30 years, Julia Fenton has always wondered "how people really know what they know" and "what really shapes our world." This Oregon artist uses key elements such as rose-colored walls, lacy curtains and even honey to symbolize the "ideal" image of women. Growing up in the 50's and 60's she was taught that a woman's place is in the home. Now in the 21st century she challenges viewers' beliefs and values by presenting many parts of women's sexuality such as flowing breast milk and menstrual blood. What better place to do this than a college art gallery? In college people are in a "learning mode," open minded to all the possibilities and experiences life will hand them. Here minds can accept old and new ideas, even those that suggest women can be beautiful even if they are fat, and have body hair. By combining art and religion, Julia provokes thoughts and forces viewers to confront their own personal judgments about life."
I love this woman's work and I love my job.