Enriching lives through art and craft

Introducing our Sculpture Resident, Julia Gartrell

Let’s talk about Julia, because she’s a rad lady. North Carolina native. Recent MFA graduate. Cat lover. She’s got some awesome qualities.


I asked Julia how she got to Arrowmont, and let her start her story as far back as she wanted to go, so she told me about her childhood. Julia had an early start with art, participating in an arts after school program throughout elementary school, and then attending an experimental public arts magnet school for middle school and high school. She then went to Kalamazoo College, intending to study biology before being guiding by her mentor, Sarah Lindley, to major in art. This is where she first learned about Arrowmont.


Julia kept checking the Arrowmont residency during the time between her undergraduate degree and graduate school (she just graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with an MFA in sculpture) and never felt like the timing was quite right to apply until this last year. Lucky for us, she applied and was accepted.


A self-proclaimed scavenger (a trait she shares with her dad), Julia finds materials for her work in the vicinity, preferring to utilize local materials. Her studio is a fantastic mix of textures, from wood scraps, to clay, to shiny fabrics, to a nice selection of yarns, she’s got the goods. Working at a creative reuse center for a period of time helped fuel an interest in industry and what happens to the discards of an industrial process. However, during grad school Julia switched from making work about global concepts that felt personal, to making autobiographical works that feel universal. Embracing narrative and family history, Julia is now developing work that deals with lore and a sense of place. The work is often driven by materials and processes, with Julia binding things together, then taking them apart and recombining them, with an emphasis on the meaning of why people collect and save certain objects that aren’t intrinsically valuable. Julia is excited to be in the region to be able to do more research on Appalachian culture and craft, and is planning an interview project to capture stories from people who have been involved with Arrowmont for a long time.


She drinks coffee and tea, receiving a special kind of legitimate English breakfast tea from her mom who now lives in the UK. She refused to tell me who her favorite person at Arrowmont is. Her cats are named Beetle and Cricket. She owns a house in Durham. She’s excited to eat fried Oreos in Gatlinburg. She’s going to get an airbrushed t-shirt. She hasn’t figured out her spirit animal yet, but we’ll work on that.

And that’s Julia!

Thanks for reading.

-Skye Livingston


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