Julie K. Anderson is a sculptural ceramic artist and art instructor living in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Her work is strongly influenced by the mountain environment as well as her science background in biology. She incorporates botany, hydrology, chemistry, ecology and environmental issues into very detailed organic forms.
Anderson’s sculptures have recently been included in several exhibitions such as the 2011 Plinth Gallery/Anderson Ranch Exhibition: A Ceramic Collaboration and NCECA’s 2009 Continental Divide at the Arvada Center. She also recently completed her first solo exhibition, titled Natural Selection at the Rumor Design Studio Gallery in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
As the daughter of a woodworker, Anderson has had a life-long interest in art, beginning with drawing and painting in her youth. After discovering ceramics while pursuing her biology degree and art minor in college, Anderson moved to Steamboat Springs to further explore ceramic arts as an intern at Laloba Ranch Clay Center. Upon acquiring a position at nearby Ceramic Design Group, a production facility, under ceramicist and master mold-maker Jonathan Kaplan, she eventually rose to the position of production manager. She was responsible for overseeing a wide variety of building and production methods such as slip casting, ram-pressing, jiggering and mold-making. During this time, Anderson began developing her own business as an architectural ceramicist, specializing in custom carved tile design and mold making. Most recently she has been exploring clay plaster wall applications and mural painting while continuing her personal exploration in sculpture. She currently teaches at Yampa Valley Art Institute and Colorado Mountain College as time allows.
“I had plans to become a forest ecologist while working as a field technician in the summers and pursuing my biology degree during the school year. But when I enrolled in my first ceramics class and placed my hands on a soft lump of clay at the potter’s wheel, I knew I had found my match. It was the most challenging medium I had ever worked with and I was absolutely enthralled.”
With a background in biology, images of science and nature are consistently present in my work. Many of my forms are broken down into detailed parts that illustrate the “building blocks” of a given subject within nature. Cells, molecules and eddies of water adorn portions of my sculptures. Buttons, zippers, screws and various types of man-made hardware are often incorporated into these organic forms, alluding to man’s manipulation of nature. Issues of climate change, genetic modification and the excessive use of natural resources are a few of the concepts that I explore through my sculptural work.
I see working with clay as a dance with nature. For me, there is no other medium or mineral that comes so close to being alive and human-like in its characteristics. There are many metaphors in ceramics that support this observation. We awaken the clay by wedging. We are aware of the clay’s memory when manipulating fine-grained porcelain. Dry clay breaths and expands as is absorbs water. It goes through metamorphosis, aging over time in a heavy plastic bag or maturing as we subject it to heat and energy. These characteristics are exactly what keep me on my toes and thoroughly engage my subconscious as I create with this highly responsive material.