Julianne Merino (1991, Hickory, North Carolina, United States) is a New Orleans based visual artist. Combining sewing, collage and painting, Julianne juxtaposes the process of painting, that has a predominantly masculine history in western art, with sewing –considered women’s labor. She graduated from Pioneer Valley Performing Arts with a concentration in costume design in 2010 and with a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art + Design in 2014. Julianne has worked as a printmaking instructor and as a journalist of art in New Orleans.
I take dolls very seriously. I started making paper dolls from magazine cut-outs and scraps of fabric as a child. Using these materials as an adult, my work reimagines the definition of what a doll is. As marionettes, paintings, or collages, these female figures sit waiting for something to happen to them.The passive female figure is an enduring theme from old master paintings to fashion magazines to vintage pin-ups.
I work on translucent vellum, painting, collaging & sewing from front and back to create layers with a distorted sense of depth, reminiscent of skewed perspective from the medieval period. A visual hierarchy emerges that subverts traditional power structures. Rather than a scene the viewer might step into, these landscapes feel more like a reverie, replete with all the non-linearity of a sleepy-eyed subconscious.
Through collage, I juxtapose classical symbols and quotidian commercial imagery, challenging culturally inherited assumptions about femininity. The disharmony between these two extremes allows me to critically explore and decode their meanings & create a cipher of personal iconography.
Sewing & embroidery, which I first learned from my mother, has historically been women's work passed down through generations. I have expanded my craft amid costuming culture in New Orleans, specifically learning from the work of a Mardi Gras Indian chief, and now employ these materials as a visually stark departure from my collage and painting, an art form dominated by men throughout western art. I engage these mediums to complicate gender dynamics of not only theme, but process.
I will further develop my process, including threading into paper, printing onto fabrics, and deepening the relationship between textile and mixed media works. I want to focus on making interactive pieces, like marionettes, and sculptural work. I’d like to incorporate family heirlooms, sewing and putting them into new works, creating a sense of femininity through generations. I want to juxtapose this familiarity and intimacy with the dark, satirical, & extraordinary imagery of Mardi Gras culture.
I’d like to create tapestries and/or wearable art that combines embroidery and 2d imagery, reminiscent of secret fraternal banners, but through the classic iconography of women throughout different history/ religions. What if women had their own secret orders? What would their traditions and symbols be? I’m drawn to this double standard because secret fraternal orders were considered to be wise and ritualistic, whereas women were considered to be heretics and witches. These were the archetypes that capitalism had to destroy.
Using embroidery looms, silk-screening and beading, I’d like to create 3d fabric pieces, reminiscent of medieval hell mouths and the faces on old Mardi Gras floats. Creating pieces that viewers can interact with is important to me, whether through puppetry, wearing, or unveiling something hidden under a piece of cloth.
This residency is an opportunity for growth — not just spatially or methodically, but also a growth in the sense of community. I feel excited thinking about this residency as a chance to be surrounded by like-minded and supportive people.