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  • Jennifer Jewell





There is an ancient association between the natural and botanical world and the inspiration it provides to the visual and dimensional arts.

In October, we celebrate this long-standing interplay by hearing from different artists each week about their botanical journeys, processes and purpose. This week we’re joined by artist Julia Lucey, who joins us from the studios of Northern California Public Media in Rohnert Park.

Julia Lucey’s aquatint etching collage compositions create layered ecosystems, and narrative scenes paying homage to native flora and fauna – predominantly of the west. The original inspiration for her art came from Julia’s years spent backpacking and working in Wyoming’s Teton mountains, but has in the past 8 years evolved to include native flora and fauna of her home in Northern California As an Artist-in-Residence at Kala Art Institute, Julia has focused on traditional etching techniques and aquatint to create images dealing with the evolving issues of wildlife, its dissolution, and the attempt by many to direct its path. She exhibits her work throughout the United States.

speak to the narratives and relationships she tends in close observation of the native plants and animals of her region

"There's a certain magic in the everyday lives of the plants

and creatures who make their lives all around ours."

Julia Lucey - Artist

"Julia wrote me a note following our conversation in which she shared: “The body of work I’m making for my upcoming Solo show is taking these “scientific native plant etchings” and local fauna and using them to create stories of the animals. There are direct references to known fables, but I am trying to reference them away from anthropomorphic ideals. The animals have their own story, separate from us. Their own nature should be revered, almost in a religious way, hence the arches, and decorative framing in my collages. They are almost – very sadly - martyrs to our “unnatural” world.I am not a fan of the actual paintings of the pre-raphaelites, but I do appreci ate their love for early Italian renaissance art, the high detail, bright colors, and the depiction of nature within it. I love how in Early Italian renaissance painting each plant is painted individually, and that each plant is a specific species that holds symbolic meaning. I may be referencing this work in my collage, but I also am seeing the connection to textiles and William Morris/Arts and Crafts movement style imagery, which I know is closely tied to the Pre-Raphaelites. Maybe I am creating their heroic, nature filled, everyday life scenes, but with what personally gives me more inspiration, wilderness.


Join us again next week as we continue our conversations with artists inspired by the botanical world when we head east and speak with artist Ann Wood, of Woodlucker Studio in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

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In our conversation today, Julia touches on something that all our artists so far have also touched on - something that so many gardeners know and feel daily, and it's this: Magic. The magic of nature – which is some part science, some part spiritual resonance and delight, and maybe even more importantly the magic of the everyday lives of all living things. The everyday lives of owls, of lilies, of gardeners…..of each of us. The everyday magic of the season’s flowers and seeds and foliage.

Julia’s work asks her to slow down – the time and attention to detail required in the many steps force her to slow down and focus and pay close attention. Her art in its finished pieces has detail that asks us as viewers to slow down and look – and look again. Notice that? And that?

We as gardeners and nature lovers are I think predisposed to pay this kind of attention – but as is also clear in our weekly conversations, we too can lose sight. We too can get lost in a cultural norm that devalues what we value and so my encouragement to you this week is this: try to slow down, try to make even a little bit of your gardening practice just that – a practice – every bit as important to your wellbeing as any thing on your to do list – your gardening and nature loving practice brings balance and perspective and nutrients at all levels into your life. So that’s your homework. Let me know how it goes and I will do the same!

In the end of my conversation with Julia, you will hear also hear her mention a dilemma that Kate Blairstone mentioned in her interview, and Obi Kaufmann mentioned in his – that age old dilemma of the balance between making a living and making a life, between profit or planet first. It is an age old dilemma and I know for me that one of the ways I try to balance this in my own actions is to try put what money I have where my mouth and values lie. I feel very confident that you do the same.

In my own work, I try to remember too that as in so much of what is being publicly discussed, we need to support one another in refusing to take part in so many of the conversations that are polarized into a binary of either/or, and insist on looking for the this-AND-this, and for the ENOUGH. What is enough? In anything and everything.

This special edition of Cultivating Place is airing during North State Public Radio’s fall pledge drive. I want to thank all of you who responded to last week's call for support of Cultivating Place. Every donation of support to this program goes to sustain this program, and all of the work at North State Public Radio.

I’ve always been proud that my work is associated with the outreach, education and tenets of Public Radio, but I’ve perhaps never been more proud than now – in this often dishearteningly polarized world, my association with my local public radio is grounding – it is orienting to my place, in this world, at this time.

So thank you for your votes of support by listening and your votes of support by donating – the link to make your contribution is below and is newly at the top of every page at Sustainability is a beautiful concept in our gardens, in our energy outlays, and in our finances. Thank you for helping Cultivating Place grow in these directions.

FUNDING is the beautiful and fragrant and full of life composted manure we need to dig into the soil bed that is Cultivating Place, and which will allow for optimum root growth this winter and full flowering and fruiting in the seasons to come. You can make your tax deductible contribution through the SUPPORT button below, or at CultivatingPlace.Com – just follow the links at the top of any page! And if you prefer to call in your support through the phone number you find on the donation page, please make sure to SPECIFY that the donation is in support of Cultivating Place.

Thank you as always for listening. You are all reflecting the magic of the world of plants back to a world that needs it - in your gardens, in ALL your art.

If you ever want to connect more directly to me – or to one another – comment on weekly posts on Instagram and Facebook – I always enjoy hearing from you and connecting back.

Enjoy the Cultivating Place Podcast? If yes, SHARE IT WITH FRIENDS.

The value of conversations like these is powerful action for positive shifts in this world.

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