Thursday, September 1, 2016

Interview with artist Julie Nellenback Henry.

Image by Julie Nellenback Henry

1. Who are you and what do you do, and what is your background?
My name is Julie Nellenback Henry and I am a contemporary multi media artist with a focus on painting. I am originally from Seneca Falls New York but have lived most of my life in the south. When I was in college I took a drawing class and disliked it so much that I dropped it after attending 2 classes! In my mid twenties I returned to my interest in art and in the years since I have been focused on my creative process. For most of those years I had a day job. I worked in my studio at night and on weekends always yearning for the day when I could pursue art full time. My work initially was na├»ve/ outsider/ figurative and my materials were things like old pieces of wood found while dumpster diving and $1 per gallon oops house paint from the Duron paint store on North Avenue. 

2. What's integral to your art and or art career?
I just have this unexplainable longing to communicate how I feel without words. Without that longing I would never paint.

3. What themes do you pursue and what medium do you use?
I seem to always be working to convey a relationship between something uncivilized and something more enlightened. I am continually drawn by the idea of a primal expression in union with a modern perspective. Part raw and part refined. 

 Right now I am painting in oil on board or canvas as well as painting in ink on paper. My background includes working in repurposed leather, letterpress, mono printing and assemblage sculpture.
Image by Julie Nellenback Henry.

4. What makes you angry, what makes you happy?
I love this question because it made me realize that I have very little interest in what makes me angry at this point in my life. But to be fair oppression in any form pisses me off. Any abuse of children, old people and animals is sure to make me mad.

 There are specific moments when I experience pure joy during the creative process. The electric moment when an idea or inspiration comes flying into me is really worth relishing. Sometimes it arrives so quickly and unexpectedly that I am scrambling to find a way to make a note. 
Also the moment when a shift occurs and all creative decisions become fluid and effortless. At that point in a painting I have lost track of myself and it feels great. 

5. Who and what inspire you in your work and or in your life in general?
Right now I am really loving the paintings of Jorge Quieroz, the poems of Tomas Transtromer and the music of The Last Shadow Puppets. 
I am currently reading a book titled My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem and listening to various Maya Angelou recordings found online.
On a more personal note, I am now and have been for many years greatly influenced and inspired by my undeniably talented husband Jason Henry.

6. What superpower would you want?
Do they have one that enables you to give everyone you encounter 1000 years of forgiveness in advance?

7. What is your favorite artists and or other person?
It was the work of Thornton Dial that inspired me to start painting. After that I was inspired to continue to paint by the work of Frida Kahlo, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jean Dubuffet and Francesco Clemente. Now I would say I still love all of them plus many many more including Robert Motherwell, Helen Frankenthaler, Robert Ryman, Sonia Delaunay, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Alexander McQueen and the list goes on…..

8. What advice would you give to other artists?
I have this quote by Rumi posted on the wall of my studio -
“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray”.
Trust yourself. 
If you find yourself unable to go into your studio or avoiding your work try reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Another book I recommend is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Guard against hopelessness by any means possible.

Image by Julie Nellenback Henry.