Studio Visit: Julie Alpert

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Julie Alpert is an artist living and working in Seattle. Her work can be seen in PLEAT's May 2018 exhibition as well as juliealpert.com.

Please describe your work. 
I make temporary immersive installations that address nostalgia, disappointment, and teenage doodling in the margins of notebooks. I use a combination of everyday craft materials, hardware store supplies and traditional art supplies. Over the last few years I’ve been digging into memories of the spaces I grew up in, those of my grandparents and my own family home outside Washington, DC, in the 1980s. Through an improvised stream-of-consciousness process, I subconsciously attempt to recreate or translate the decorative atmosphere of these places. Once my work comes down, I typically recycle most elements, hanging on to one or two small parts that weave their way into the next installation.

What internal and external factors motivate your conceptual choices? 
I’ve just mentioned some of the internal factors, but the external factors that motivate my choices are strongly tied to place. Each of my installations is made specifically for and in response to the space it will be hung in. I think compositionally about the best arrangement for the architecture of the space and what the space is typically used for. Scale and relationship of parts to one another within the room are very important to me. I also like to think about how viewers will move through the space, giving them moments of visual chaos balanced with moments of rest.

Who are your artistic influences and what have you learned from them? 
I am drawn to artists of all disciplines who know how to create mood and psychological tension from the everyday, who are accessible yet complex, and who are specific and at the same time leave space for me to create my own imaginary worlds. Some people who come to mind are writers Alice Munro and Elena Ferrante, artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, choreographer Pina Bausch, and filmmakers Werner Herzog and Ingmar Bergman. 

How has social media affected your studio practice? 
I love how Instagram has broadened my sense of the contemporary art world by connecting me with artists and galleries around the globe (including PLEAT!). I’m based in Seattle, but I’ve been away for a year at Roswell Artist in Residence Program, so it’s been a great way to stay connected to Seattle artists back home. One of the interesting effects of social media is that because it can be used as a promotional tool, I wonder how much of what artists make (myself included) is preceded by concerns for how it will fit into a square and make us more popular. I mean, we all need external reinforcement, right? :) This is not a judgement, just an observation that will play out over time. Overall, though, I think it’s a good thing and I can’t see how I’d otherwise be exposed to so many great and diverse artists. Having all these new images in my eyeballs certainly influences what I make.