As part of a group exhibition at Concordia University Irvine I was asked to give a brief reflection on my work in the show. I am including the text here.
Thank you for the opportunity to share my work with you today. My name is Julia Hendrickson, and I am a professor here at Concordia. I am a printmaker working in the Abstract Expressionist tradition with a distinct emphasis on process.
The foundation of this series began a few years ago when I was on a Zoom call with a precocious three-year-old. We were painting together and she was asking lots of questions, as is her right as a three-year old, which meant that my focused attention needed to be directed at her and not necessarily at the painting. What could happen was a fingerprint at a time. A simple gesture, that evolved into patterned prayers, meditations on connection. I painted on dry paper in sketchbooks and then dry paper in large rolls, 30ft long rolls. A shift happened when I wet the paper and then fingerprinted onto it dancing with the blooming touchpoints, allowing for real-time adjustments of the image. After gaining proficiency with this working method I returned to my familiar practice of adding salt to wet imagery. The hydrophilic and hydrophobic reactions highlight the directionality that the water application introduced and construct highly textured images.
As for the content of these images, this Droplets series is a reflection on two concurrent epidemics in America. First, SARS-CoV-2; as someone with a complicated immune response to illness, my life has been drastically altered by the presence of these viral droplets. The second endemic that the Droplets series focuses on is gun violence and subsequent blood splatter. Something I am all too aware of as a university professor. As I realized the content of these paintings I removed my fingerprints from the paper and created through splatter and drips; making no direct contact. This is reminiscent of the distance that many take when talking about these challenging issues.
The paintings remain unframed in the traditional sense. For a long time I didn’t understand my reluctance to framing. I had the means and ability, but the work resisted it. It wasn’t until I read Amanda Palmers book The Art of Asking, where she explains about the exquisite trust and vulnerability that develops between a performer and their audience that I understood. The pieces are an experience in trust. The sheets of paper remain unprotected. They rely on the viewer to treat them with at minimum benign neglect, and at best, utmost care and consideration. Thus adding to the interpretative elements of the two epidemics while implicating the viewer in the process.
While the process of making these paintings appears effortless, they are splatter paintings after all, they are not. They are carefully choreographed collaborations between material and intent. The monochromatic color scheme constructs a meditative space where the viewer has room to explore free from the distraction of compliment and contrast. Every element is collaborated with allowing for the coalescing of form and meaning. Thank you for your careful consideration.
Ordinary Time 2023