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Julia Luft

Julia is a painter working in oils. She joined RWS in March of 2020. Making art has always been how Julia makes sense of the world, even from a young age, “Art has been the only constant in my life. I always drew in my sketchbook during recess, even in kindergarten.” Growing up, Julia had a family friend who was an illustrator to show her that living a creative life full-time was possible. It wasn’t until high school when someone put oil paint in her hands that she had her revelation, “Oil paint is the sexiest paint in existence - it’s buttery and silky and the pigment is so saturated and it stains everything. It’s so succulent.” She spends a lot of time preparing for painting, which she loves. From stretching, to priming, to mixing the palette, “...oil makes you slow down so much, it’s like foreplay. It’s such a sexually charged process, oil painting.” Julia’s favorite tool is her palette knife, “It’s the tactile element of mixing paint. I love the materiality of painting with oils.” Julia loves doing figurative work, “Art making has such a human quality that it’s trying to decipher and make sense of this existence.” Julia cites elements of the human condition that are both maddening and beautiful. She’s interested in the space where these two qualities intersect and how they relate to each other, and how they are both necessary parts of existence, “It’s like the power of contrast.” Julia is interested in the connective tissue in artmaking, how to connect with others, connect with your work, and connect with yourself, “It’s very human to me. I’m leaning into the human representation part of that, hard, through portrait work and anonymous figures, and referential anatomical stuff like bones, the human qualities, even if it’s abstract mark making.” The experience of making art for her is like “...putting words to something that you haven’t put words to before, like when you hear a song and you think ‘This song was written for me.’” It’s those levels of connection that Julia appreciates, the “I don’t know this person but I connect with this” feeling. Julia connects with SZA’s album “CTRL” in a way that makes her feel like it was made for her, “It’s brilliant, it’s magical, beautiful; I think it’s genius….If I can make something that is as beautiful, succinct, and has that archetypal energy of a contemporary female existence….I wish I wrote it myself.”

Julia went to MassArt to study illustration where she learned the rules that she is actively trying to figure out how to break. Julia has followed different avenues and she says, “As far as living a creative life and wanting to do it full time, it’s one of the only careers that allows you to have complete autonomy over your time, yourself, and your identity. Art allows your work to change and be as organic as you let it; it allows you to explore your curiosities. Not a lot of career choices allow you to do that. There’s also a big element of play. There are times when I find myself taking myself too seriously and I go back to that place of ‘Why did I like to do this when I was a kid? Alright, let’s just make a mess.’ There are a lot of things that art can offer anybody at any level of involvement that’s unique. There are not a lot of careers that will love you back the way art does.” Julia is currently part of an online exhibition called “When It’s All Quiet” at Co-Arts Gallery, ending August 17th. You can contact Julia on Instagram at @jckluft, her website, or by emailing Julia also co-hosts a podcast called “The Seed Cast” with a musician friend where they chat with creatives in different stages of their career (available anywhere you get your podcasts).


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