Ballet led Julie Strong to visual art. Strong grew up in Alpine, Utah, where she studied classical ballet. After high school, she danced professionally with Wisconsin Ballet Theater. Then, when life, marriage, and a son paused her dancing career and brought her back west, to Canada, Montana and eventually, Idaho, she took up a needle, creating costumes for the Idaho Falls School of Ballet, where she also taught and choreographed.
The needlework continued beyond the needs of the ballet school and Strong began working with fabrics and embroidery, experimenting with various fibers and techniques until she developed her own artistic voice in a plastic medium. That voice has won her awards at the SLCC President’s Art Show, the 2021 Springville Spiritual and Religious show, Springville Spring Salon and Wasatch Fiber Arts Competition.
“If there’s a goal to art, it is to facilitate a relationship with something outside of ourselves (inspiration, spirit, divinity, God) by providing an opportunity for interconnectivity through mediums such as images, music, or poetic words,” she says. “Some of us have been in that space where we are moved so profoundly by an artistic work that we’re certain our lives have forever shifted. Sometimes, the feeling is more subtle and a piece might bring up a pleasant sense of joy or happiness or even unease. However a piece affects you, the recognition of the connection is as significant as the connection itself.”
Currently, she’s working on a series titled The Only Vision I Ever Had. “It will be a depiction of a crystal clear insight presented to me after the death of my grandmother, Olive,” she says. “This interpretation of thoughts around life and death has deepened and become more refined during past decade because of my close relationship with a dear, young friend who very recently passed away due to cancer. ”
When creating a work, Strong investigates the individual personalities of the materials she is working with. The pieces in this series will use fibers, threads, and metal leaf. “I find metal leafing adds a luster that can be both subtle and bold and it’s just plain intriguing to work with. My hand embroidery on top of wet-felted wool and silk will enhance, build shape, and further define the shapes.”
“My ultimate concern and hope in creating this series, is to give shape and form to my understanding, and therefore belief, that life and death operate closely together through pathways; I ‘saw’ this clearly in a snowy grove of aspen trees in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Using the tree and root system as a metaphor will be critical since the whole tree, both above and below, is how I first grasped and was able to comprehend the vastness of the perception.”
This 15 Bytes feature talks with artists about what is on their “easel” right now.