JULIA WESTERBEKE

ARTIST STATEMENT
In sculptures and drawing-based installations, I create semi-abstract terrains that are by turns organic and curiously alien, at once familiar and foreign.

Taking inspiration from science fiction and biological forms, I build intricate and textural surfaces onto 2D and 3D structures. The detail pays homage to the complexities of organic life, its ceaseless regeneration, flux and decay, as well as its minor imperfections.

Ultimately the work speaks to our distorted and alienated relationship with nature, which is so deeply interwoven into our appreciation of it. I am fascinated by how we abbreviate and abstract from a boundless natural system. Nature becomes a mutation of itself, transformed by our desire to understand and connect with it. Even our own bodies, insomuch as we can conceive of such a complex microcosm, can appear to us as a system of alien marvel.

I am interested in semi-abstraction as a vehicle for the imagination and memory. It allows for an indeterminacy of form that activates the viewer, encouraging him or her to complete the artwork with personal associations. In Gaston Bachelard’s writings on the oneiric and “psychic weight,” he argues that certain imagery, forms and objects have an immediate intimacy, causing one to delve into personal memory. This is why I am interested in the familiar yet foreign dynamic allowed by certain forms of abstraction: the idea that pared-down and unfamiliar imagery can still create a connection with the viewer by way of subtle visual references. The goal is a distant, lingering sense of familiarity— a sculptural “psychic weight.”

The detailed minutiae of each artwork also points to a childhood fascination with the strange, small and seemingly trivial. Gary Paul Nabhan has written about taking his family to the Grand Canyon. While the adults are drawn to the dramatic vista, the children are more engaged with what is immediately before them (inspecting glittering sandstone and feathers in along the terrain). Much of my practice is motivated by an exploration of this innate fascination, as well as a study of intimacy in relation to objects and sculptural form. 

www.juliawesterbeke.com

CV