As a teenager, Julie Speidel lived in the British Isles and was fascinated by the prehistoric ruins she saw including the stone monoliths at Newgrange and Stonehenge. Her work in both bronze and stone reflects the primitive nature of these structures and others she found on wide travels throughout Europe and Asia.
By Efi Michalarou
Photo: Winston Wächter Fine Art Archive
Julie Speidel’s sculptures engage an array of cultural influences, reaching back through antiquity to the stone and bronze-age peoples of Europe, the early Buddhists of China, the indigenous tribes of her native Pacific Northwest and on into 21st Century. In her solo exhibition “Continuities”, Julie Speidel shows works that function as benches, stools, and chairs, and explore the connectedness between the object, its surroundings, and the viewer. These sculptures are solidly constructed of wood, metal, and stone. The artist explores the deep and powerful relationships between people and objects, which seem to exist at the very core of humanity. Speidel often works at the intersection between figuration and abstraction, suggesting the human form through combinations of elegantly simple shapes. At times, her sculptures appear to diverge from the figure altogether, but they often preserve the basic components of bodies: circles and ovals evocative of heads, vertical forms echoing limbs. On the other hand, they seem inextricably linked to the natural world, their forms equally influenced by boulders and trees. It’s a dichotomy that, at its core, taps directly into the intimate connection ancient people felt with the earth. The artist considers the energy within each material in order to create a form that is true, expressing the essence of the material itself. Two small stools that make the piece titled “Naeba” and “Nantai”, are Asian inspired designs, and incorporate various woods. Others, such as “Amukta” and “Pods”, use different earthly elements such as stone and bronze. Previous work has ranged from monumental to intimate in scale. The sculptures presented here are human scale, and functional. The relationship between the viewer and the object is one that connects them to the history of the earth and to geologic time. “Sitting on one of the benches made from the elements of the earth, is to be awakened by the experience in nature”.
Info: Winston Wächter Fine Art, 530 W 25th Street, New York, Duration 13/7-25/8/17, Days & Hours: Tue-Sat 10:00-18:00, http://newyork.winstonwachter.com