Future unknown, art abstract

Courtesy Photo / Julia Victor
GVSU Artist Julia Victor

Courtesy Photo / Julia Victor GVSU Artist Julia Victor

Rebekah Young

Student artist Julia Victor’s burlap art piece, which features a graphite pencil sketch of hair twisted into two fraying braids, has earned her the title of Michigan’s Emerging Graduate Artist (MEGA).

“It is a very strong work, both lovely and haunting,” said Taylor Greenfield, president of the Master of Fine Arts Club at Kendall College of Art and Design.

With this piece, Victor earrned first place for the MEGA juried exhibition and took home a $250 prize. The honor, which comes from the MFA Club, distinguishes Victor as a rising talent in the Grand Rapids art community.

“My art deals a lot with the relationship between the mind and the body, or physicality and the abstract,” Victor said. “My work deals with abstracting the figure — pushing the limits as to how much I have to paint a figure for the viewer to still recognize (it).”

The exhibition, which will feature two of Victor’s burlap pieces, will run from March 17 to 30 in Gallery 114 at Kendall. An opening reception and awards ceremony will be held in the gallery from 6 to 8 p.m. on March 18.

Artwork from other entrants, including second-place finisher Ashley Lambart from Kendall and third-place artist Sarah Kandell-Gritzmaker from Adrian College, will also be on exhibit.

“The exhibition will feature a variety of media and is an excellent example of the talent running rampant throughout many of Michigan’s college and university art programs,” Greenfield said.

Two weeks ago, Victor received a call about placing first in the exhibition. As she prepares to graduate from GVSU’s Art and Design program this spring, she said she feels good about her win and is grateful for the recognition.

“It’s a pretty nice ego booster with graduation and my senior thesis looming in April,” she said.

As a student artist with a painting emphasis and an art history minor, Victor said she has always gravitated toward creative expression through painting and drawing.

“I’m drawn to the immediacy of paint and drawing materials and the evidence of the hand,” she said.

Victor said her affinity for blending the physical aspects of reality with the abstract in her artwork stems from the idea of human perspective.

“I’m very interested in these tensions because I think it’s something anyone upon viewing my pieces can relate to,” she explained. “We all have bodies, and we all have experiences about what it’s like being in our bodies.”

In addition to her MEGA win, Victor will have her work displayed in a GVSU Bachelor of Fine Arts exhibition on April 15. The event will showcase six other graduating student artists and several other art and design students.

The BFA exhibit will be held at 1111 Godfrey Avenue in Grand Rapids, the site of a five-story, 400,000-square-foot warehouse that will be divided into separate areas to display the students’ art.

After graduation, Victor hopes to move to Chicago to join an artist co-op with friends. She also plans to attend graduate school in the future.

“I feel confident because Grand Valley’s BFA program has prepared me well,” Victor said. “There are a lot of ways to apply an art degree, making my future somewhat unknown but very exciting.”

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