Julie Warren Conn: Shaping Stone and Molding Metal

May 12, 2014 - June 13, 2014
Event By: Clayton Center for the Arts Address: 502 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway Maryville, TN 37804 Email: info@claytonartscenter.com Phone: (865) 981-8590

Artist Reception opening day of exhibit, May 12, 2014, from 5:30 to 8:30 The exhibit will be open 10-6, Monday through Friday May 12 through June 13. Julie Warren Conn: Artist Statement From the time I was a small girl in East Tennessee, I imagined forms in tree branches, clouds and other natural objects around me. Although I had the spirit of an artist from that early age, opportunities to study art were limited during my childhood. My formal art training began in college, where I was awarded the first Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in Sculpture from the University of Tennessee. During the first ten years of my career, I welded art objects, building solid forms from flat sheets of steel. As a diversion from welding one day, I decided to complete a sculpture of Tennessee marble, which I had roughed out using only a hammer and chisel while in college. When I began to polish the stone and the beautiful qualities of coloration, veining and composition were revealed, I never had a desire to return to welding. Today, I continue the extremely physical, direct-carving process of working stone. I use hand, pneumatic and electric tools, removing the stone and creating various shapes -- often creating organic “form for form’s sake,” and at other times, producing abstract, figurative pieces. When producing a commissioned work, I interact closely with the client in developing a desired image or shape. After roughing out the stone, I spend hours grinding, sanding and polishing the flowing open surfaces. Many additional hours are spent with hand sanding as I push for a highly refined, smooth finish. The sculptures I create range in size from tabletop pieces, usually placed in private homes, to monumental works for corporate offices and public facilities. Several of my stone works have been cast in bronze. They are produced by a metal foundry through a complex process of making a mold from the original stone form, pouring and refining the sculptural shape, and using a chemical technique to create the desired patina and finish. I use a variety of patinas in giving character and color to the bronzes. With their lustrous patinas and interesting mottling, often the bronzes are mistaken for stone. Prior to my marriage to Dr. Philip Conn in 2001, a book covering my early works, entitled Julie Warren Martin: Sculptor of Stone, was written by Carolyn Boling, the former first lady of the University of Tennessee, and published in 1993. After Philip’s retirement from the presidency of Western Oregon University, we moved to Lexington, Kentucky. Presently, I maintain a studio and showroom in the nearby town of Winchester, Kentucky. My inspiration comes from personal relationships, the wonders of nature, and marvelous sculptures from around the world. I admire the entire spectrum of art from the old masters to contemporary artists, as well as many fine ethnic expressions. Since the late 1990s, I have instructed art classes on ocean cruises, traveling to scores of countries and all continents. Experiencing the art treasures of many lands and cultures gives me fresh ideas and renewed motivation for sculpting. Picasso declared, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” In that spirit, I wish to create sculptural objects of beauty that bring joy and tranquility to the viewer.

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