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Where are you from originally and where do you live now?

I was born and raised in Houston, Texas. I spent a year in Brooklyn at Pratt Institute, then three in Richmond, Virginia at Virginia Commonwealth University, and now I'm back in the Lone Star State. There's something about Houston's disgustingly hot summers that just feel like home.

What is the story behind The Painted Ladies?

'The Painted Ladies' were my first series of backpacks that were based on well-known and flourishing buildings. I typically focus on abandoned buildings with peeling paint and broken windows. My draw to crumbling architecture is primarily because of a jaw condition I have that has left me in chronic pain due to the deterioration of my own body. I relate to these buildings and feel the need to bring them hope. 'The Painted Ladies' are my attempt to focus on the preservation of historically significant architecture and prove to myself that it is possible. My work is based in optimism and my own need to believe in a positive future.

Have you always worked with textiles?

My grandmother got me my first sewing machine when I was 12 years old after she saw my sad attempts at hand sewing. I was instantly hooked. By the time I got to Virginia Commonwealth University I was eager to study every material I could. My focus ended up being in glass blowing and ceramics, but even still I never stopped sewing. My knowledge of pattern-making and sewing construction influenced everything I did and allowed me to approach these new materials in a different way. Now that I'm done with school, I'm back to my first love and have gathered quite the sewing machine collection.

What is the process of making the backpacks?

I do my best thinking in the shower and I don't sketch anything. I imagine how I want the bag to function so that it still visually portrays the building at hand. This involves mentally sewing each seam to make sure it will all work. I take really long showers... Then I make the pattern. This is where my other love, math, comes into play. While making the pattern I again sew each seam in my head and make sure all the pieces line up. Once the pattern is complete, I can estimate how much fabric I need of each color and then dye the fabric (in my bathtub), then its just a matter of cutting and sewing. I'm a bit of a perfectionist so the sewing phase always ends up taking way longer than I expect.


Do you see these pieces as functional art? If so what does that mean to you?

Absolutely. I see my work as art that is begging to be touched and worn and used on a daily basis. Age and wear are signs of love, so for someone to love my work enough to display it out in the world instead of just in their home is a great honor to me. My building backpacks are one-of-a-kind. There is only one, and there will only ever be one of each.


What's next for you? Where would you like to take your art?

I will always make one-of-a-kind work and am constantly on the lookout for new old buildings to be inspired by, but I also want to create a production line that incorporates my interest in architecture and structure with my desire to see things in a new light. I enjoy understanding the rules and then carefully breaking them.

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Julia's website and Tumblr.

 

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