Julia Kjelgaard says luck has allowed her to travel around the world pursuing her art and her interests. It doesn't take long in her presence, however, to see that talent and vision deserve most of the credit for her travels and successes.
Julia, a native Pennsylvanian, began developing her artistic side at an early age and her affinity for the arts resulted in Julia earning a B.A. in studio art from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1977. However, Julia also was interested in science, psychology, and education. Rather than choose among these disciplines, she meshed them, and has done so with great success. Following college she worked in arts management positions, business, as an educator, and as a scientific research assistant, and also discovered a passion for printmaking.
"As an artist, I began as a painter," she recalls, "but painting is a solitary art, and I found I was lonely. I began seeking community for myself and found it in printmaking."
"Once I started making prints, I found I loved it," she continues," I loved the feel of the paper and the materials and the smell of the chemicals and the shear physical work it requires. I guess it's that Puritan work ethic," she adds with a laugh.
Julia went on to study printmaking at the University of Alberta in Canada in the mid 1980's. "This was my introduction to international ideas and collaborations, and the emphasis has stayed with me," she says. As she was exposed to many different styles and approaches of printmaking (each with a clear voice of its own," she says), Julia found that she enjoyed working with those "voices" in an ensemble rather than as solo creations. Much of her work combines various printmaking techniques, which requires a mastery of the techniques of lithography, intaglio, screenprinting, and relief.
Chronicaling all of Julia's travels and successes would be a lengthy process. Suffice it to say that she has exhibited worldwide, won numerous awards, and traveled throughout much of the United States, Europe, Asia, and Western Europe. These are the experiences Julia attributes to luck-being in the right place at the right time-but her diverse interests factor into that "luck."
In 1994, while serving as a fellow at the Kala Institute in Berkeley, California, Julia used her Tibetian experiences to create two series of works. "The work I began at the Kala institute was very experimental in nature and very free for me because I had the time to explore some of the ideas initiated in a previous series," she recalls.
For the New York Times Series, Julia combined harsh realities with healing images from Tibetian medicine. "This series represents the balance of life, both visual and mental, that is required for us to survive in the modern world," is Julia's summary of the work.