• Voices of Art, Vol. 7 No. 2, April/May 1999
• Artweek, February 1998
• Surface Design, Winter 1998
Juliet Wood at the Center for Spirituality and the Arts
Voices of Art, April/May 1999
by David McCall Freeman
Juliet Wood's show titled, "On the Wings of the Spirit," at The Center for Spirituality and The Arts is a transformation of the artistic process into a spiritual, meditative and healing visual experience. The spiritual essence of this show is meditative and sublime. The intuitive journey of her spirit and soul are both exposed. Her art explores the mysterious within the realm of the divine.
An example of this is the "Icarus Quartets." Lining each side of the gallery is a series of eight bees wax-hued sculptures (two quartets). They take on the presence of mummified wings and the remains of an angel. She repeats each form with only minute differences evident. Their dark beauty provides a conflict for the viewer. There is a foreboding presence witnessed in the piece because it is almost as if we have become archeologists and have discovered the remains of an angel. The relic, at one time, possessed the spiritual saving grace on an angel, but its spirit is no longer encased within. This creates a profound conflict for the viewer, making us realize our own mortality and how we have best utilized our spirituality.
These cast resin winged shapes dominate the show. There is a question within the tension of this piece. Are we Listening to the words of our universe, and to the intuitive feelings of our spirituality in the same way that Icarus listened to the words of his father?
In the piece titled, "Journey as Blessing," Wood has used the labyrinth (a medieval archaic symbol) as a tool to represent a journey inward. This motif is repeated throughout the show, it has to do with the healing power and meditative process of spiritual journey, or as Wood states, "An inner journey of evolving consciousness." She has incorporated the text of a Celtic blessing within the walk-way of the labyrinth Adorning the path is a flight of butterflies, a symbol Wood uses to define regeneration.
In the series titled, "Spirit of the Flute," Wood has an assortment of different sizes of small, woodwind instrument cases hanging from the ceiling, suspended in mid-air. These constructs are embellished with an array of found objects, i.e. paint, fabric, silk, paper, buttons, etc. applied and crafted in such a way as to give them an adornment quality of preciousness one would bequeath a cherished icon. Each case holds an immaculate set of wings. Their petite size and eloquently frail beauty make them appear perfectly at home within the safe confines of their case. Each set of wings is created with a built-in harness giving the wearer the ability to dress the wings whenever the need arises to explicate their meaning and relevance.
Juliet Wood's incredibly masterful craftsmanship and precisely rendered silk-screening of bird and butterfly wings, bird carcasses and sky motif are both angelic and celestial. Her spiritual intuitive dynamic are stimulating and reclaiming. Her energy and vision are soulful and her creative spirit is on that is full of passionate energy and will be long remembered.
Artweek, February 1998
"Juliet Wood at SOMAR Gallery"
I have to admit to some feeling of trepidation when I read the announcement for Juliet Wood's show of recent work at SOMAR Gallery, which is subtitled Recent Work Celebrating the Journey as Blessing. While the spiritual in art has a long and rich history, it has fallen out of favor in the late twentieth century where, particularly when it tangles with New Age rhetoric, it is met with deep cynicism. And while many of us believe, in one way or another, that for both viewer and maker, art is beneficial to the spirit, it's not something we are always willing to readily admit.
Wood's work is unapologetically about art as a means of spiritual journeying. Her pieces are meant to depict "inner journeys of evolving consciousness." She draws on a range of mythic traditions, referencing them in title or subject, and using those resonances to direct the viewer's contemplation of the piece. The Icarus Wing Quartets, which fill one room of the gallery, are a series of molded life-size wings made in epoxy. The repetition of the form, in very slight variations, emphasizes the flight itself rather than the fatal outcome of that flight. The piece reorients the myth to a more hopeful lesson; rather than being about destruction, it becomes about process and transformation.
Wood calls her pieces "constructs," which is an apt word to describe them. She works in a range of media, and her pieces may be sculpted, sewn, painted, printed or collaged. Her work, particularly her paintings, often has a consciously handmade quality, as if to make a point of the manual birth of her work. Her pieces are all beautifully crafted objects. In Spirit of the Flute, Wood has built a small narrow suitcase to house a pair of diminutive wings. The carefully painted and constructed case acts as a frame which, in the care given to it, emphasizes the preciousness of the wings. The piece has a keepsake quality; hidden inside, the dainty wings, act as a quiet reminder of innocence.
Language is also a crucial element in Wood's pieces, which often incorporate text. Her large painting Blessing Journey features the image of a labyrinth, overlayed by the text of a Celtic blessing and surrounded by butterflies, a symbol of regeneration. The piece reiterates the spiritual message of Wood's work as a whole, but it did so with too heavy a hand. This was a problem for me with much of the language incorporated into her pieces. The translation of spiritual lessons into the cultural constructs of language is necessary only for didactic purposes. It makes concrete something which is fundamentally abstract and in doing so makes assumptions that are often both limiting and alienating. The rhetoric of Wood's language is couched in a belief system that the viewer may not necessarily share.
Wood's work is strongest in the pieces which forego language. Without words and a rhetorical structure, her pieces are visceral and immediate. They suggest her spiritual message with an intuitive force, rather than wrapping in it in the often leaden ligature of language.
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Surface Design, Winter 1998
The art I make I term "constructs." My constructs are multimedia and multi-material. They include a variety of traditional materials and found objects. I use silk, cotton, linen, papers, fibers, pellon, wax, threads, oil and acrylic pigments, dyes, charcoal, caron d-ache and photography. I print, paint, construct, and often stitch on the surface of a piece. Recently I have developed a "frescoed canvas" surface using paster, which I encourage to crack. This often adds another visual layer of historical context for an image. The images, scale, and shape emerge in the construction as a visual tension is produced from incongruous materials. The tension is a dynamic toward learning and insight, a mixing of chaos and symmetry that implies a tension in the cosmos allowing for an ambiguity that is stimulating to us. It is the artist's job to turn over old ground in new ways. In the process I meet the intuitive, the meditative, the archetypal. The process is soulful. I work often in a spiral or circle form, creating a logos or story, a way of dwelling on the Earth. Satisfying work and shape ultimately create Logos, a redress of an imbalance in linear perspective. Perhaps all my work is one large work about transformation.
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2006 Subtle Energies & Energy Medicine, Volume 15, Number Three, cover art
2003 Subtle Energies & Energy Medicine, Volume 13, Number One, cover art
2000 Malleable Matter/Stretchable Space, Rochelle Newman, Interweaving Art
1999 Interior Expression, Ed.: Andrea L. Garcea, "Healing Environments: Designs to Nurture the Spirit," pg. 54, by Victoria Stone
1999 Human Spaces: Life-Enhancing Designs for Healing, Working and Living, Ed. & Author: Barbara Crisp, "Health & Medical Spaces: Health & Healing Clinic, Institute for Health and Healing, California Medical Center, San Francisco, CA, pg. 164-167
1998 Bridging Time and Space: Essays on Layered Art, Ed.: Ann Bellinger Hartley, "The Pulsing Image on the Edge of the Millenium," pg. 87, by Bonny Lhota
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