PaperWorkers Local

PaperWorkers Local

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Julia Elsas

Julia Elsas was born in Birmingham, Alabama and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.  She received a BA from Carleton College and an MFA from UC Davis. 

As a mixed-media artist, I am continually exploring a range of materials and processes. My current work encompasses printmaking, photography, collage, textiles, sculpture, ceramics, papermaking, installation, and performance. 
I have always been interested in body language and in the awkward, charged tension that can be evoked by isolating the small gestures we make when we interact with each other. I initially began exploring this tension by repurposing clothing and fabrics used in and associated with women’s intimate apparel, which I see as suggestive of courtship, sensuality, and violence. After stretching, tearing, and otherwise altering these fabrics, I ink them for use as the substrate for my monoprint series. 

My “BLACKOUT” series of gouache on found photographs and illustrations developed out of my interest in the subtle gestures, sounds, and other physical cues that are so telling of desire and an individual’s predilections and personality. In my “BLACKOUT” series, I use black gouache to block out portions of images of idealized families, domestic scenes, and architectural spaces. Through this techniques, I aim to shift the meaning of the original images by exposing details that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Over the past few years, conversations with friends and fellow artists have inspired me to work collaboratively and to explore new materials. When I make work with others, I consider the physicality and gestures of my own body and the bodies of my collaborators and how this feeds into the finished pieces. Among these projects is a series of latticed paper pieces I am working on with a master papermaker. I create the design for these pieces, while she helps me to make and assemble the different paper pulps. I am drawn to the oscillation between two- and three-dimensions in this process, as we move from lattice cut stencils (2-D) to layered paper pulp (3-D) to the final dried and compressed layers of pigmented paper (2-D).

In another recent project, I have been investigating the sonic possibilities that lie within dormant objects in a series of hand-built ceramic instruments influenced by Nigerian udu drums. At rest, the instruments’ sculptural forms evoke body parts. When played, they emit low-pitched tones resembling the pulsing beat of blood through the heart, or various mammalian mating calls. I have played these instruments with musicians and artists in live performances, noting how our bodies must move in order to produce sounds with them. In these performances, I turn the tables, becoming the one who is observed, rather than the one who is observing.

While studying at Davis, she received the Robert Arneson Award, the Fay Nelson Award, and two Freedmond Gadberry Awards. Past exhibitions include: The Drawing Center, New York, NY; International Print Center, New York, NY; CUNY Graduate Center, New York, NY; Bronx Art Space, New York, NY; Textile Arts Center, Brooklyn, NY; Art Merge Lab, Los Angeles, CA; One Mile Gallery, Kingston, NY; Barbara Archer Gallery, Atlanta, GA; North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC; Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC; Branch Gallery, Durham, NC; Lump Gallery, Raleigh, NC; Cinders, Brooklyn, NY; Pigman Gallery, San Francisco, CA; JAYJAY, Sacramento, CA; Richmond Art Center, Richmond, CA. She was an Artist Fellow at Virginia Center for Creative Arts in Amherst, VA in 2009 and 2010 as well as an Artist-in-Residence at the Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, CA in 2010.  She was a 2014 Resident Artist at Gowanus Studio Space in Brooklyn, NY. Julia currently teaches printmaking and bookbinding at SUNY Purchase and Montclair State University.

Julia Elsas' work will be on display at PaperWorkers Local during June and July with an opening on Friday, June 17 and a closing on Friday, July 15.

Gallery hours: Wednesdays 5:30-7:30pm and by appointment at

PaperWorkers Local has an exhibition opening to coincide with every Third Friday in Forest Park.

In addition restaurants will have specials, wine tastings etc. Shops and galleries will be open late, catch the shows you may miss during the day, shop for gifts while enjoying a refreshment. Enjoy the social scene of Forest Park after hours. Find out what else is going on for Third Friday here: