Julia Ousley​​

From a very early age, I knew I wanted to be an artist. Growing up in a time and a place where that aspiration was soundly discouraged, I turned my attention to a practical art: architecture. Doing well in high school encouraged me to choose it as a college major. Unfortunately, in that time and place, college women were also discouraged from pursuing architecture as a career and others convinced me that I could not succeed.

Leaving school, I began working as a dental assistant, which eventually led me to return to college to become a dental hygienist and practice the career of a healthcare professional. After marrying and having three children, I found the courage to again go after an education in architecture. After earning a master’s degree, I practiced architecture for a number of years, at first for others and then in my own small firm. It was a happy marriage of art and pragmatism, yet the desire to be an artist was not wholly fulfilled.

In 1995 I turned to sculpture as a way to both create a design idea and build it myself without the functional constraints imposed on architecture. A few years later I left home and family for New York to study art at the Pratt Institute. Since earning my Master of Fine Arts there, I have returned to Texas where I work full time in my Dallas studio. I continue to travel back to New York frequently and maintain a part-time studio there. 

The work that I now do is derived from my varied background. I most frequently use common building materials that I am most familiar with. Often my method is that of tasks and craft associated with traditional women’s work, like sewing  and weaving. The themes I most often explore are of the human body, the human condition and the built environment. I am particularly interested in that place where they intersect and my work is frequently marked with architectural as well as human symbols and signifiers. In recent years I have begun to work in more durable materials for outdoor sculpture and public art projects.

One of my continuing goals is make conceptual abstract work easily accessible to the casual audience. When I have a statement to make, an idea to represent, a notion to share, I have no interest in making it so esoteric as to need formal interpretation. I am very happy working in my studio these days, and happier still when my work is viewed and enjoyed.

Julia Ousley