Julie Clements, Ceramic Sculpture
My inspiration comes from nature, traveling, and my work with exotic animals as a zoo veterinary technician. As newlyweds, my husband I traveled around Madagascar for four months. The unique, endemic fauna left a lasting impression on me. Since then I have worked closely with many of those species in the zoo healthcare setting. Being close to the animals, I can trace the bubbly whorls on lemur feet, watch feathers refracting the light and changing into extraordinary colors, and feel the thousands of ridges undulating on a tortoise shell. These intimate details fascinate me. In my work I obsessively try to capture the essence of an animal utilizing these details. Some of my work in this show “Endemic” is purely to enjoy the nature of these animals and some is narrative. The boat pieces allude to an idea about how animals could respond to encroaching pressures in our modern world.
All my work is hand built with low fire white sculpture clay. I use traditional construction techniques. Most figures are started as a pinch pot and then the clay is shaped. I love the transformative process. It is a risky business to spend weeks on a sculpture and then fired it to 1828F. I use a wide palette of underglazes, mason stains, and oxides that I apply like a watercolor wash. Many pieces go through multiple firings to add depth to the surface. I also use terra sigillata which is a fine clay applied to dry unfired clay and then buffed. This ancient technique gives the clay a distinct smooth and buttery finish. I work obsessively for long periods of time striving for a level of detail that is satisfying.
While studying anthropology at Emory University in my home town of Atlanta, my twin sister encouraged me to take a sculpture class with her. I was immediately hooked. It sent me on a new path, studying clay art at the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, Georgia State, and finally at the University of Georgia in an MFA program. After traveling to Alaska for a summer job mushing dogs on a glacier for tourists, I found my second love working with animals. I was free in Alaska to work unique jobs with dog mushers, assist veterinarians in remote places, and enjoy wildlife as a nature guide. This led me to a career as a veterinary technician and, more importantly, first-hand experience working with many amazing animals. I continue to combine my love for ceramic sculpture and animals, working as a zoo veterinary technician part time and translating this into my art. I have shown work regionally at the Pence Gallery in Davis and Blueline arts in Roseville. Most recently one of my pieces was chosen for the International biennial fine crafts competition at the Blueline.