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/ Exhibitions / Strange Gardens: Julia Barello

Strange Gardens: Julia Barello

February 5, 2016 – August 6, 2016(This exhibition has passed.)

With her breathtaking new installation “Strange Gardens”—a multi-layered environment of vivid, translucent color and swirling forms—the jeweler and metalsmith Julia Barello will transform the walls of the Turchin Center’s Mayer Gallery into a symbolic garden, brightly blooming in the dark chill of winter. It will be the largest, most ambitious work by Barello to date.

“Barello’s large-scale installations—metaphors for the human body as well as the interconnections between the body and the natural world from which it emerges—are meticulously sculpted from recycled medical images originally meant to convey critical information about the interior of the human body to doctors,” says Turchin Center Curator Mary Anne Redding. “She removes all identifying markers from exposed MRI and X-Ray film, which she then dyes and hand-cuts into intricate organic shapes—leaves, petals, birds and flowers are layered across the walls of the gallery to create scenes from nature. Barello transforms images of pain and human disease into life-affirming artworks.”

Reviewing Barello’s “delicate flora” (which are individually attached to the wall with steel pins measuring up to 10 inches in length), the Houston Press wrote that “they’re so textured and alive. . . . [They] have a sense of wild about them that’s still nonetheless contained.”

Hydrangea (Detail), Julia Barello.

Hydrangea (Detail), Julia Barello.

Artist statement

Barello discussed how she began using the medical film of unknown patients in a 2012 interview with the American Craft Council’s American Craft Magazine, which described her work “ghostly and nuanced.”

“For me it became a stand-in for the individual,” she told the magazine. “The individuals have no name. It’s more the idea of the vast individuality of humankind: We function as groups, but we all also have our individual worlds.”

About the artist

Julia Barello is Professor of Art at New Mexico State University, Las Cruces. She has exhibited widely across the United States, at such institutions as the Rubin Center for the Visual Arts, Museum of Art and Design, Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft and Museum of Contemporary Craft. Her work can be found in multiple permanent collections, including those of the Museum of Art and Design, Mesa Arts Center, Isle Royale Natural History Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Craft.

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