Guest blog post by Paloma Mayorga.

Underground, a Mother Nature monster devours the bodies of men, their digested bones sprout new life through the soil. This is the visceral and poetic work of L.A. based printmaker and mixed media artist, Julia Curran, who was selected to be part of PrintAustin’s 5×5 at Link&Pin Gallery earlier this year, and will also be showing at the inaugural Print Santa Fe 5×5 exhibition at Zane Bennett Contemporary Art taking place this month.

Julia Curran, Spring Fingers, 2022, serigraph on paper, 18″ x 24″

Curran’s vibrant and layered mixed media works often combine woodcut and screenprinting techniques with painting and paper collage. They are anatomical and exceptionally relatable as she explores cycles of life and death. 

Since the time she was a teenager, Curran has experienced chronic illness and has found healing by reconnecting with her body through nature. She speaks of her autoimmune disease, her journey with natural and Western medicine, and how her internal work to embrace her body as a part of nature has fueled her current prints in her recent interview with Jamal Barber for Studionoize Podcast

In her work, Curran depicts anthropomorphic renditions of Mother Nature as aggressive feminine dieties who have agency over their physicality and are capable of destruction as a way to challenge toxic masculinity and the typical misogynist embodiments of nature as only nurturing, fragile, and submissive. 

Julia Curran, What The Garden Gave Me, 2022, serigraph on paper, 24″ x 18″

In Memento Mori for Evil Men (One Day You Too Will Die, She Will Eat You, And Shit Out Your Bones), Curran’s Mother Nature monster humorously does exactly what the title suggests. She actively chows down on men, breaks down their bodies into pieces, and defecates their bones which in turn feed new life into the landscape. Her extremities take root, beautifully emulating veins that run through the soil. The roots tagle around objects that are meant to remain buried, while spry greenery rises to the surface to create a lush ecosystem. “What new magic can we grow from what we let die?” She questions.

Julia Curran, Memento Mori for Evil Men (One Day You Too Will Die, She Will Eat You, And Shit Out Your Bones), 2022, serigraph on paper, 18″ x 24″

Inspired by Medical popup books from the 1500s, her woodcut Mother Nature, includes three interactive paper cut-outs that fold open to reveal tiny oil paintings of the various stages of the monarch butterfly, mushrooms symbolizing decomposition, and the anatomy of a digestive system. For Curran, digestion and soil also act as metaphors for transformation.

Julia Curran, Mother Nature, 2022, woodblock print and oil on paper, 12″ x 8″ x 1″

In an earlier interview with Miranda Metcalf of Hello, Print Friend, she discusses the societal paradigm that happened during the past few years where many artists turned back to nature. Curran recalls finding inspiration by fully embracing the fleshy, soft, and abject components of her own body. “Find that part of you, that little part of you that you feel shame about… follow that and use that as a guide in your work and that is where the strength will come from,” she advocates. 

Her hope is that by celebrating the very things that make us human, that which makes us a creature very much a part of nature, we can find an antidote to authoritarianism and the systems of a disembodied society that control our lives.

To learn more about Julia Curran’s exquisit work, visit juliacurranprints.com.

About the Exhibition

PrintAustin’s 5X5 is one of the organization’s annual juried shows presented during the month-long PrintAustin festival. 

Started in 2021 as an online exhibit, five artists are selected based on a cohesive body of work made up of five print-based works. In 2023, PrintAustin added a new dynamic to the open call and had two jurors pulling from identical submissions, creating two separate exhibitions–one hosted by Link&Pin during PrintAustin, and the other to be presented at form & concept during the inaugural sister festival, Print Santa Fe  in April 2023.

This year’s 5×5 exhibition in Austin was juried by Holly Borham, Associate Curator of Prints, Drawings, and European Art at the Blanton Museum of Art, and curated by Annalise Gratovich, Texas printmaker and PrintAustin Board of Director Member.

PrintAustin partners with Miranda Metcalf and Reinaldo Zambrano of Hello, Print Friend and Jamal Barber of Studio Noize Podcast to conduct interviews with each of the selected artists to dive deeper into their artistic practice and inspiration behind their works.

If you enjoy the PrintAustin blog or any of the podcast interviews, please consider making a donation to PrintAustin and help continue our artist-led efforts to share our love of printmaking!

You can view the 2023 5×5 Catalog here or purchase a copy by emailing info@printaustin.org.

Featured Image: Julia Curran, Memento Mori for Evil Men (One Day You Too Will Die, She Will Eat You, And Shit Out Your Bones), 2022, acrylic, serigraph, and collage on hinged wooden panels, 18″ x 48″ x 2″