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Julie Ann Nagle
Jersey City, NJ

ARTIST STATEMENT: I employ the tools of archaeology for studying the origins of our ancestors, to excavate the material traces of my own personal heritage and interrogate my own mythology, beliefs, and identity. As time goes on we invent new tools to study the ancient past, while paradoxically moving farther from our initial connections to it. I prefer to concurrently examine recent events and their open wounds against this past; the evolution of personal narratives alongside the transformation of physical remains. Inheritance is a video, series of photos, cast of the remains of a horse, botanical illustrations, and sculptures created at a burial ground on my family’s property in rural Pennsylvania. I used archaeological methods to survey, excavate, and share an intimate site, while conveying the weight of past events and magnitude of emotional connections to it. Rather than documenting this project with the repose of an earth work, my installation will convey the emotional intensity of discussions and collaboration with family members at the site and my relatives‘ taboos and connections to what was buried there. In Congress I explore my heritage as a female artist and the evolving historical narratives of ancient women. As I examine ancient figurines I enter the sacred other worlds they conjure, as well as the worlds of the artists who made them millennia ago. As I catch myself projecting fantasies onto the past my desires for the present are revealed; for different social structures or matriarchal societies, closer relationships to natural environments, daily intimate interactions with art objects, ongoing communion with ancestors, the freedom to abstract features and reimagine the human form, and the discovery of new kinds of beauty. Orrery considers the mediation of understanding ancient cultures through the study of fragmented artifacts. Astrolabe is an unconventional timeline with jumbled historical markers, which slowly rotates and changes direction. Constallation maps human evolution through mitochondrial DNA. Gateway and Willow Smoke with Dogs Tails reflect on anthropological studies of Nomadic cultures, and art made in transit. I am continually inspired by creative thinkers from other fields and integrate new modes of inquiry and fabrication processes into my practice, building bridges between sculpture and other forms of material investigation. I have incorporated botany, aeronautics, archaeology, anthropology, genetics, chemistry, and zoology in past works and continue to expand my practice into other disciplines, using sculpture as an intellectual lynchpin.

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