How did you get into making art?
It’s always been a part of my life in some way. When I was around five, my mom signed me up for a watercolor class for adults, and one of my earliest memories is learning that when you hold a flat brush in different ways, you can make different kinds of marks. I never really considered pursuing art full time until I was halfway through my linguistics PhD and realized that my surreptitious art projects were better at answering the questions that interested me.
What are you currently working on?
I just got back from a residency in Iceland, so I’m working on editing some video work I made at a nature preserve in the far north. I’ll also be starting a new set of sculptures that will act to synthesize some of the feelings and experiences of the sustained contact I had with the land there.
I think the only real hope we have for functioning ecosystems in the future is for humans to fall in love with the land.
What inspired you to get started on this body of work?
I think the only real hope we have for functioning ecosystems in the future is for humans to fall in love with the land. Land must be treated as family, as friend, as a deeply beloved entity worthy of care and effort. The best way I know to do this is through sustained, bodily contact with land. I seek out residencies that allow for such contact, and then when I get back to my studio I synthesize the thoughts and experiences and feelings I formed about a specific place into sculptures.
Do you work on distinct projects or do you take a broader approach to your practice?
Definitely a broad approach. I want the forms I am interested in to build themselves organically. If I’m too regimented about sticking to one project, it ends up feeling forced and insincere. Background reading and hiking sustains my making, but the pieces themselves touch on many points of interest. I try not to control the sculptures’ impulses too rigidly.
What’s a typical day like in your studio?
Highly variable. I have a few different tables for different stages of the various sculptures I am working on, and I cycle through those. Every day I read. Most days I go for as long a walk as I can fit in.
Who are your favorite artists?
So many. There’s just so much talent, skill, and insight out there that it’s hard to narrow down. My immediate inspirations are my extended art community in NYC. Catherine Haggarty, Rose Nestler, Gracelee Lawrence, Hilary Doyle, Defne Tutus, María Berrío, Devra Freelander, Lina Puerta, Rachel Frank… There’s no way I could name everyone who belongs on this list.
Some of the “big names” who got me thinking about sculpture early on are Ana Mendieta, Nairy Baghramian, Ursula von Rydingsvard, Isamu Noguchi, Wangechi Mutu, Eva Hesse, and Kiki Smith.
I also think about petroglyphs and cave paintings a lot. It’s good to remember the deep history of creative making that lives within us.
Where do you go to discover new artists?
I’ve found such an incredible artist network through NYC Crit Club that they have to be mentioned first. Otherwise, residencies are great, and I’m pretty spoiled living in New York City. Setting aside days to walk through the endless galleries here is always fruitful. Also, social media can sometimes be draining, but I have met so many artists from all around the world who I never would have met otherwise, and that’s pretty great.
Julia Blume is an artist based in New York City who was recently shortlisted for The Hopper Prize. To learn more about the artist: