Juliet Johnstone’s Paint-Geodes Bring Nature to New York
Juliet Johnstone remains an outlier in the community of young, downtown NYC artists. Though the scene and its output are diverse, I’d say there’s been a significant shift towards the creation of digital media as means of expression. Juliet is one of the few practicing fine artists I know. And as if being a 20 yr old Painter (with a capital P) in a super media driven age isn’t rare enough, the majority of Juliet’s paintings are organically inspired. Although “nature” might feel like an obvious, even blasé art subject, I’d argue that “nature”- here, now, in 2016, is pretty under represented. Maybe even forgotten. That being said, Juliet’s work is the exact opposite of obvious and blasé. Her paintings are contemporary and innovative reflections of her sources of aesthetic inspiration. The fact that she can transform some of the most common sources of reference into these unforeseen, otherworldly, abstract portals is just a further testament to the integrity of her artistic vision.
How do you manage to make this kind of art in a notoriously nature deprived city?
I think that being in a nature-deprived city is exactly why I make it. I crave space, land, air. The “landscapes” and spaces that I create are things that I desire. I am interested in the relationship between humans and nature, on multiple levels. I find there to be significant connections between rocks and human form. In my more recent work, I have been thinking a lot about the gentrification of a natural place. All of this has been inspired since living in New York City.
There has always been a hierarchy of mediums in the art world, and in the past couple decades, I feel like painting has descended in the ranks. But traditionally, being a “painter” was synonymous with being a “True Artist”. How does it feel to maintain a classical artistic identity in the age of *InTeRnEt ArT*?
It’s an interesting topic to try and balance. I work in more “traditional” mediums because it is what I like, and what works for the pieces that I have been making. Intentional or not, artists are inherently responding to the zeitgeist of the moment. I suppose we are all the same in some way, just expressing in multiple mediums.
Do you feel like you are at a disadvantage by creating art that isn’t “new media” centric?
Not really. As cliché as it may sound, if I’m doing the work that I want, there shouldn’t be an issue. However, if I decide to make something that could be classified as “new media” it would be for the sake of the piece and I’m open to that. The piece is more important than my opinion on new media.
How do you feel that Instagram has affected the politics of art world?
It is kind of weird. I personally feel this constant internal struggle of rejecting Instagram for my artwork, but then feeling silly for not embracing self-promotion. I used to hate Instagram for art. I thought it felt tacky. But I recently have grown to like it more. Different “types” of art are accessible to everyone, and how could that be a bad thing? For example, now you can casually see a photograph of an in-progress piece, which is pretty cool. Something about viewing art over Instagram makes it a super casual experience, which can be both good and bad.
List too long.. Mike Kelley, John Cage, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Agnes Martin, Mark Bradford, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Margaret Kilgallen . . . my sources of inspiration could go on forever.
Worst piece of ~iNtErNet ArT~ you’ve seen recently?
Not finna say.
Advice on where best to see a tree or sniff some flowers in NYC?
Head over to Home Depot on 23rd street!!!! They have a nice selection of potted plants!
Follow @julietjohnstone to see more of Juliet’s work.
Posted by Cassidy George
on February, 2016