Community update with Julie Lequin
Julie was a participant in our residency programme in 2009. Her work is multidisciplinary, including video, performance, watercolor, writing, props and costumes, as well as written lists, voiceovers and notes for scripts. Julie’s first book and DVD project was published in 2007 by 2nd Cannons Publications, and she has had numerous exhibitions throughout North America and Europe. Julie was the 2011 recipient of the Joseph S. Stauffer Award, and was also awarded fellowships from the Canada Council for the Arts and from the California Community Foundation. In addition to her time at Cow House Studios she has participated in residencies at Yaddo, Art Omi, Macdowell Colony, and Les Recollets in Paris.
CHS: What have you been working on most recently? Can you describe a bit about your process and the themes you’ve been exploring?
JL: In the last year, I have been working on a series of short videos about job interviews. Similar to my past works, I wrote a script for a video featuring myself playing different roles. For this project I used the voices of friends and family for most of my characters, and animated what I call a “video-sculpture-puppet”. I also had sets built for the different interviews and worked with multiple cameras for the first time.
I have been going on job interviews for many years seeking employment as a way to financially support my art practice, and because I would go insane if I was in the studio every single day. My interest in these important life events stems from their universality. It can be a stressful ‘mise-en-situation’ for both parties. I am interested in the power dynamic of these moments, and also wanted to make fun of the often irrelevant and puzzling questions. I am currently editing the videos for my next exhibition which opens May 8th, and I always post clips of the work on my website… www.julielequin.com
CHS: What is your most vivid memory from your time here in Ireland? How did your residency at Cow House inform you as an artist?
JL: My most vivid memory is the view I had from my bed! Every morning I saw an endless foggy green valley. I don’t have a strong affinity for ‘landscape’ but the green was so crisp, it would wake me up quickly in the morning. I also enjoyed the interaction with Frank & Rosie, Michael & Mary and the 2 other artists in residence Billy & Aoife. Sometimes a residency can be challenging because of its solitude, but at the Cow House I felt well surrounded during the making of my work and at meals.
CHS: You have been on several residencies. What is most beneficial about this time away from home and your own studio?
JL: It’s nice to get away and start something from scratch in a new living and working environment. It invigorates me.
It’s harder to continue to pursue a project I have started at home. My last residency was in Paris 3 years ago. I found that it was quite draining and lonely, and I’m not one for eating dinner alone all the time. After this experience I decided to create a nest at home in Montreal with my boyfriend.
At home, things are easier because my family is here, I have a neat network of friends, a handful of artist colleagues and I can teach, but it’s kind of sleepy. Montreal is a big city and there is of course a lot happening, but I don’t find myself inspired that often.
I find bits of inspiration:
– When I jog;
– When I look at instagram (I like this community a lot) http://instagram.com/julielequin
– When I see my friends (especially Lily and Olivier & Mathieu)
– When I go to Marché aux Puces (the flea market)
In any case, I found myself itching for a residency when I visited Mexico City last March. I had never seen anything like it! The colors, the art, the immensity, it’s bubbling energy… AND I don’t even speak Spanish!
I decided to apply for the Quebec Studio in Mexico City, and thankfully my submission was successful. I just recently heard the good news, and am currently trying to organize a calendar of workshops to learn traditional handcrafts and perhaps take some art history classes. I feel like I need to take advantage of the opportunities that are there. I will try to avoid recreating the work environment I have at home, and I really want to build a sense of a community and a routine while I am there.
CHS: You work across several mediums. Some of your videos require detailed planning and elaborate constructions while your drawings embrace a loser quality. Is there a symbiotic relationship between these varied approaches?
JL: Yes they have a symbiotic relationship because they stem from a singular vision for a specific character. Sometimes the drawings are quicker to make, but they can also take a while to plan and research. I have also been working on large drawings that take weeks to make. All of this activity is part of the same longterm character-building process, but I guess nothing takes more time than building and decorating the sets!
CHS: In addition to your art you have been teaching several classes. Has working with students changed your practice or given further insight into your own creative process?
JL: Well, I definitely have a greater appreciation for my studio time when I teach! When I work full time in the studio, I often take it for granted.
Most recently teaching has been really fun! We’re working with fabric and sewing machines!! The project started with students bringing a ‘found object’ to class. Through the introduction of fabric, they are changing the utility of their chosen object. It’s mainly an excuse to explore the medium and expand their references. I find that projects with the best results stem from my own excitement for the materials, where my enthusiasm can be contagious for the students.