Monday, September 7, 2009


Made In China, Julie McNair

For the last eight weeks, I have been traveling more than usual to complete appraisal work throughout the country. In every city I visit, I try to carve out time at the end of the day or between flights to see an art exhibit or to experience a new museum. One of my favorite places in recent memorry has been Telluride, Colorado. Located in the southwest portion of the state, Telluride is an amazingly beautiful town with a rich history and a lovely art scene.

One day, during an early morning walk, I came face to face with the sculpture above and it immediately captured my attention. The sculpture entitled Made In America is one of the works featured in artist Julie McNair's latest exhibited, Being Human. The title, Being Human, suggests that the artist's intent is to capture what it is like to be human. But more than that, the artist is concerned with what it is like to be human in today's world. For instance Made in America is a depiction of a woman wearing the stars of the American Flag on her dress as she hides American Flag behind her back. Her facial expression is both proud and sad. Is this a comment on the decline in American manufacturing and its proud heritage or is it a comment about the American worker? Is the woman proud or ashamed of her country?

The answers are left to the viewer but the method of creation are readily apparent.
And thoses methods are both interesting and fully successful. Each sculpture has a different texture which is acheived throught the use of press molds, detailed by hand-painting, and then sealed with a post-fired patina. The texture and color help create a mood and personality for each figure. Today's viewer is more accustomed to viewing physically beautiful models as the subject. But McNair's subjects are not traditionally beautiful. Instead, they are interesting and flawed and this forces the viewer to focus on the artist's message or the particular issue she is exploring without wasting time on the beauty of the face or the body. McNair has said, “I start a piece with a specific idea, whether it’s a personal concern or more of a big picture dilemma. From that starting point I jump into the creative flow. The finished piece ends up embodying that energy.”

Julie McNair is a long time resident of Telluride, Colorado but she was not educated in the state. She received her undergraduate degree in sculpture from North Texas University and her M.F.A. in fine arts from the University of Wyoming. During her long arts career she has had varying jobs including grants writer, executive director of the Art League of Houston, Assistant Professor, and art gallery owner.

Being Human will be on display at the Ah Haa Gallery in Telluride, Colorado until September 24, 2009.

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