Visit Julia Vance's website: click here
No one who has ever described Julia has done so with more eloquence than John Hightower. John passed away in 2013 from Alzheimer’s. All of us at Studio Sem miss his energy, keen eye and especially his dry wit that kept us all laughing and in high spirits when he came to Pietrasanta. He bought a piece of Julia’s some years ago and never stopped talking about how much he loved it.
The following are some excerpts selected by Keara McMartin from the introduction John Hightower wrote for Julia’s catalogue.
The skill and touch of the sculptor can transform any number of materials into awakening shapes and forms that lure light and shadow across varied surfaces. Julia Vance’s sculpture adds another distinctive flair by transforming traditional calligraphy, normally considered a two dimensional presentation of letter shapes, into blocks and forms more familiar to Isamu Noguchi and Jean Arp. Her sculptural fascination with calligraphy is the result of a decade and more of perfecting this exquisite ancient art form on surfaces of paper, wood and glass.
Within the past few years she has fused the two artistic disciplines with exhilarating liveliness and subtle warmth. The result of her poetic descriptions captures the lyrical heft of weight and the feeling of unyielding, yet powerful grace. The beaming white Carrara marble sculptures are brightly luminous and unexpectedly cool, even in the heat of a Tuscany afternoon in July. Suddenly these other shapes appear not by surprise but by familiar feel and touch.
“The two letters in the word ‘VI’ are what this sculpture is physically made up of. The two capitals are for me the two people who together can make a us. They are not on their own here, but form a unity, slightly overlapping each other comfortably. The letters are leaning back, their tops or stems continue up and around to the marble’s underside, where they grow together into one. As they arrive up again below the letters they are now like a thick blanket covering themselves. They are in themselves protected, taking care of their togetherness. The blanket looks soft, but is also tight and there is no space for anyone else to slip into this unity. The unity can be seen from inside or outside. For me it is a great difference in where you are viewing this togetherness from, whether you are one of us or looking at them.”
For Julia Vance calligraphy is never far from being both written and sculptural. Her playful pieces include a bar of music traced along a fence covered in clinging Norwegian snow, perhaps awaiting its ensemble for the afternoon’s chilly rehearsal. Another whimsical nod to a gentle muse is present in an aerial photo (a friend supplied the plane) of all the Smestad School’s students gathered in the central courtyard forming the calligraphic figures of ‘65’ to celebrate the year of the school’s founding.
Julia makes it easy for us to follow the threads of calligraphy and then slowly achieve either delicate or muscular shape while still maintaining an aurora of grace beyond the finite limits of whatever medium she chooses. This is someone who has already achieved powerful demonstrations of her new connectivity in three dimensions. It is exhilarating to imagine who and what will emerge from marble and stone, and the host of other materials that will flow from her chisels and her captivating imagination.
Another “VI” also appears in multiple columns of blocks of marble. It is a stunning, active, and lingering sculpture. Undoubtedly, there will be others with a similar name. How exciting it will be to watch each new work of art emerge and continue to add luster to Julia’s already rich canon of sculpture.
John B. Hightower
Former Executive Director, New York State Council on the Arts, Former Director, Museum of Modern Art, New York City
Julia Vance March 13th 2014
Julai working on a alabaster sculpture at night in the studio
Julia working on 'We'
Julia skyping a friend while working on 'We'
Julia Vance 'VI x 5' bardiglio marble H. 65 cm
Julia Vance 'Hold' in from the Oslo parlament biulidng in Oslo
Julia Vance working on 'Hold'
artisan Leonardo Buratti helping with the finishing of 'Hold'
Julia Vance 'VI' statuary marble H. 35 cm
This sculpture was the first sculpture that John Hightower and his wife had ever purchased. Years later he developed Alzheimer's and as the decline moved forward he was more and more attached to this sculpture. He said it made him remember Pietrasanta and Julia and Studio Sem, giving him the pleasure of remembrance until the end.
Julai Vance 'F' in marble from Mt. Altissimo H. 108 cm
Julia Vance 'F' detail
Julia Vance detail 'F' in progress
Julia Vance 'Tid' Carrara marble H. 102 cm
Julia Vance 'MOR'
Afyon marble 69 cm x 41 x 54
Julia Vance working on 'MOR'