2018 E.A.S.T. ARTIST HIGHLIGHT | Julie Ahmad
We're exploring the world of the dozens of local artists featured at MMAC’s 2018 EAST gallery and their mediums. The goal of this series is to shed light on real-life Central Texas artists exploring what & why they create.
If you have to put it into words, what is your art like?
I create large scale intuitive abstract artwork, meaning I don’t have the final outcome in mind from the beginning. My art is like a journey, I get taken on a ride, if you will, where the canvas is leading, unfolding and revealing itself to me. I love to experiment with different mediums and textures; in most of my pieces you’ll find acrylic paint, oil pastel crayons, charcoal, metallic foiling and just about anything that will leave a mark. The work is loose and forgiving with this style and there are no mistakes. This serves as a practice of accepting my flaws as beautifully human.
We noticed that you put together a group show to be featured at MMAC’s EAST temp gallery - how cool! Is there a theme for the group show?
Yes, so exciting! I have brought together three other very talented female artists―Billie Claire, Haley Lebeuf and Jennifer Pate. Our group is called Femme-Easta, and we have produced a collaborative interactive installation called, “We Have Something to get off our Chest.” Tour goers are encouraged to participate both during the show and in the inner makings of the project prior to the tour dates by supporting our Indiegogo campaign launching at the end of September.
The installation addresses the social expectations that are placed upon both men and women in our society. We hope to open eyes and examine the social constructs we have agreed to in hopes of promoting positive social change and eliminating not only what does not serve us, but what is harming us as a whole. I urge you to take a look at our Indiegogo campaign and get involved. The proceeds will not only support this project, but lay the foundation to support a non-profit that will continue to bring more dynamic art installations, workshops and provide subsidized art studio space for under represented artists here in Austin!
Alright, back to your art. You change subject matter off and on. What's your process like? How do you decide what to commit to canvas?
You’re right, I do change subject matters quite often, but overall I always seem to come back to my staple which is mixed media art. I’ve done a series with glitter embellished pet portraits, and also a fluid series with alcohol inks in the past. It really depends on what inspires me. It could come from scrolling on Instagram, or most recently, I found an abandoned box full of vintage playboy and penthouse magazines. You would have thought I found a box full of pirates treasure; the tantalizing nostalgia, pre-photoshop centerfolds, beauty standards from 5 decades ago… not to mention the articles that gave insight to what views on sexuality were like back then was overwhelmingly exciting. I couldn’t wait to see how they would incorporate into my work and what they would evolve into. This put me on a path to examine collage art and see what has been done by other artists, what techniques they use, and how they work with the materials. Everything I see will be in the context of how to tackle this. I get into a bit of an obsession over it.
With collage being new and completely unchartered territory, there were many challenges that came along in regards to the new medium, like what adhesives to use, what tools would be best for precision cutting, etc. What keeps me going is the genuine inspiration and need to master the materials that I have found so intriguing. I’m like a dog with a bone that just will not let go of it. This characteristic trait has served me well in being a self taught artist, but there also is a balance that needs to be maintained here in letting go and pivoting when I see that something is just not working. At the end of the day, it’s trial and error and lots of self discovery.
You've been an artist in Austin for a while now. How have you seen shows like E.A.S.T change and evolve over time? What gets you excited about being a part of the Austin art scene?
I really love how artists have grouped together; I see a lot of support and camaraderie, even amongst the different groups during EAST. I think the notion of “we are stronger together” has really sunk in and contributed to the vibrant and positive art scene here in Austin. Over the past five years, I’ve also seen the artists get better, grow, and evolve. It’s been nice to see the quality of art improve over time as well. I know several collectors that patiently wait for either EAST or WEST to shop and find pieces to decorate their homes or offices. It makes me really happy to see this kind of support for the craft. With each year, the turn out gets better and better!
“I think the notion of “we are stronger together” has really sunk in and contributed to the vibrant and positive art scene here in Austin.”
Check at more of Julie’s work on Instagram
ABOUT BIG MEDIUM’S EAST AUSTIN STUDIO TOUR:
Big Medium's East Austin Studio Tour (EAST) is a free, annual, self-guided art event spanning two weekends in November. EAST provides opportunities for the public to meet the artists and artisans of Austin in their creative spaces.