Hamilton College’s Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art will host an opening reception for Julia Jacquette: Unrequited and Acts of Play, oil paintings that explore our relationship with the media landscape and a graphic memoir based on the architecture of urban playgrounds in the 1970s. The reception on Saturday, Feb. 18, from 4 to 6 p.m. is free and open to the public as is the exhibition which will be open through July 2.
Comprising paintings, site-specific murals, and a series of gouache drawings, Unrequited and Acts of Play marks Julia Jacquette’s first major museum retrospective. The exhibition was curated by Tracy L. Adler, the Johnson-Pote Director of the Wellin Museum.
Six Hamilton students returned to campus over winter break to assist artist Jacquette in creating two 12 ft x 16 ft site-specific murals that are included in the exhibition. The two murals are inspired by the swimming pools depicted in luxury advertisements, showing illuminated clear-blue water, symbolizing perfection, warmth, and wealth. In Jacquette’s reinterpretation they are abstracted to soothing swirls of aqua. Golden Artist Colors, the world-renowned producers of artist’s oils, acrylics and watercolors, located in New Berlin, N.Y., developed paints specifically customized for these murals.
Exposing our seemingly insatiable longing for the ideal, the work of the Jacquette, who is based in New York and Amsterdam, focuses on commercialized objects of desire: images of food from cookbooks from the 1950s and 1960s, ornate interiors of the wealthy, and liquors from glossy magazine ad campaigns, among other subjects. These material trappings are presented, often close up, in crisply detailed paintings that both profess and resent such desires and the complications they present personally, socially, and culturally.
Exploring related themes is a parallel project, Playground of My Mind. In this graphic memoir, begun in 2010, Jacquette turns her attention to the “adventure playgrounds” built in New York City and Amsterdam during the 1970s. These structures encouraged constructive, imaginative play and gave renewed life to utopian notions of American and European modernist architecture. A personal commentary on the design principles Jacquette grew up with (her father co-designed one of these playgrounds for Central Park) and on their influence on her aesthetic and thinking, the project exists as a series of original gouache drawings that will be on view at the Wellin. This project comprises over sixty works will be co-published as an illustrated artist book by the Wellin Museum and DelMonico Books/Prestel. The Wellin will also publish a monograph, the first major publication on the subject of the Jacquette’s work.
A section of the Wellin Museum’s Dietrich Exhibition Gallery will be reserved for student- and community-organized play-oriented projects that reflect ideas put forth by the book. Unrequited and Acts of Play will travel to the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, where it will be on view from September 24, 2017 – January 14, 2018.
Julia Jacquette is an American artist who divides her time between Amsterdam and New York City. Her work has been shown extensively at galleries and museums around the world, including The Museum of Modern Art, The Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and The RISD Museum, among other institutions. She has taught at the Rhode Island School of Design, Princeton University, and is currently on the faculty at the Fashion Institute of Technology (NYC).