Julie Farstad
Julie Farstad
Artist Statement


In my work, I seek to explore themes of childhood, specifically the psychological dramas of girlhood, femininity and feminism. My paintings focus primarily on the doll as subject, and I use children’s toys and landscape references to create images that are about identity development, rites of passage, and my own experiences of childhood and adolescence. My practice is labor intensive, not only in the course of painting, but also in that I sculpt many of my paintings’ subjects out of papier-mâché or play dough before photographing them, in order to create the source images for my paintings. This process serves to underline the theme of childhood within the work, while also presenting the idea of experience as being an event that is dynamically created through perception.

I want to invite the viewer into a dialogue with the work through the convincing use of the familiar techniques of glazing and chiaroscuro, while at the same time creating an image that appears fractured, collaged or visually impossible. To me this tension between representational, historically canonized modes of description and the spatially illogical landscape being depicted is analogous to the complex nature of perception. I am interested in painting the phenomenon of perception, which I see as being a continual conflict between the event in the present, and the simultaneous presence of our possibly conflicting hopes, desires, memories and fears, because it introduces the fascinating and complex structure of identity, and I am committed to the study of girlhood identity.

As a feminist, it is not only important to me to explore the way perception guarantees that subjectivity be constantly unstable and in flux, but to also be skeptical of embracing any one mode of representation or theoretical discipline. To this end, I strive to create images that combine a variety of influences, including psychoanalysis, religious painting, and popular culture, within a space that rejects the authority of the single viewpoint in order to undermine the authority that any one language- be it visual or theoretical- may assume over another.

In the end, I hope to tie my philosophical ambitions to the personal and specific nature of my paintings. While never explicitly narrative, my recent works are based on my own childhood and adolescence and how my experiences have informed the development of personal expressions of gender. I am continually interested in finding out what it means to be a girl or become a woman. I want to know where identity exists, if the subjective nature of experience means our autobiographies are infinitely rewriteable. My paintings of dolls wandering through broken landscapes strive to depict the struggle find a sense of home in a constructed identity, which history and culture continually tells me is that of the “other”.