Julia Jacquette leading a tour of her exhibition, Unrequited and Acts of Play

Artist Julia Jacquette led a tour of her exhibition, Unrequited and Acts of Playat the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum on April 11. During the session, Johnson-Pote Director Tracy Adler engaged with Jacquette in a conversation about the social implications fundamental to her work. The exhibition is the largest yet of Jacquette’s work, and it includes a wide variety of media.

Jacquette’s paintings heighten the unrealistic luxury used to advertise products including water, which, in Jacquette’s words, “has often functioned as a cultural symbol for perfect life.” The mural Swimming Pool Water (Hand) was inspired by a cover photo of a J. Crew catalogue featuring a woman floating on water in a bikini. To Jacquette, the photograph evoked the idea of unobtainable beauty and youth.

The artist noted the somewhat blurred paintings inspired by glamorous photographic images, including Actress in Gold and Wine, White, were purposefully rendered out-of-focus to give them a beautiful and seductive aura. To Jacquette, re-creating advertising photographs in paint provides a way to contemplate them and, thus, understand the social issues implicated in their purposeful design.

Some of Jacquette’s works are abstract paintings of liquor. “The reason I gravitated toward images of alcohol is that they are meant to look gorgeous and appealing like beautiful underwater works,” said Jacquette. She explained that the attractive quality of images of liquor mainly stems from the use of an unusual and unrealistic palette of colors, giving such images an abstract appearance.

Additionally, some of her paintings combine text and images, a direction Jacquette has recently taken. An example, 36-Sofas, features representations of 36 sofas each labelled with one of Jacquette’s feelings or thoughts such as “envy of friends’ success” or “a relentless self-judging narrative.”

The afternoon’s tour did not include the second part of Jacquette’s exhibition, Playground of My Mind, which includes some of nearly 60 gouache works focused on “adventure playgrounds” built in New York City and Amsterdam during the 1970s and the design principles surrounding them with which Jacquette grew up.

This current exhibition has received an abundance of media attention, including from The New York Times, The Architects Newspaper, Metropolis Magazine, Artnet, ArtINFO and artdaily.

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