Member Spotlight: Julie Nocent-Vigil
May 13, 2020
Our first member spotlight for May is Julie Nocent-Vigil. Julie is a Santa Fe, New Mexico-based artist who works in a variety of media including printmaking, paper making, sculpture, and more!
While I did graduate work in fine art history and architecture, my growth as an artist and academic did not take a traditional trajectory with completion of a MFA in the fiber arts media that I currently explore. I returned to creative work after nearly two decades in public education serving students in New Mexico and Oakland, California. I consider myself an emergent fiber artist now building experience with juried exhibition and residency opportunities, learning with fellow artists and mentors, and heeding an intuitive thread.
When I came to the Southwest to attend graduate school at the University of New Mexico after undergraduate work at the University of Toronto, I concentrated my studies on Native built environments, mapping, and narratives about spaces as well as ceramic research examining the role of non-traditional contexts in transmission of pottery knowledge. During this period, I met my husband when he was working in the cultural preservation department for his tribal community. Both of us now engage in creative work.
Over the last six years, I have been embracing new opportunities to focus seriously upon art while trying to balance fulltime work as a public educator. In 2014, studying printmaking and book arts, I began a series born out of profound frustration with standardized testing implemented in the school system. A small book art piece from my Opt Out Series was accepted for exhibition by the Ohio Craft Museum. I drove to that book art show, and coming back on Turnpike 35 in Kansas, was literally blown away by the awesome beauty of the Flint Hills and its south wind. The journey through that space consumed me, called to a new creative path, and, within a year, I was walking in the Tallgrass National Preserve having been awarded an artist residency during the program’s inception year.
My return to studies of Western spaces has been deeply renewed and enriched by studying the fiber art of joomchi under the guidance of artist, Jiyoung Chung. What had led me from Toronto, with an undergraduate degree in philosophy and religious studies to research at the University of New Mexico, unfolds now in a new way … tracing old paths and new threads … along the Santa Fe Trail … returning.
Series and repetitive markmaking with stitch and print are deeply connected to the act of marking hallowed space in my practice. I recall and create a landscape map using the physical process of joomchi, folding a plane of hanji (Korean mulberry paper) in multiple directions, working with it in a cyclic and repetitive manner. This cyclic process becomes intrinsically tied for me to an understanding prairie space: traveler coincident with center, where direction (north) can be elusive, and there are always the echoes of center and sensed arcs. The process recalls and textile artifact maps memory, impression, loss, orientation and disorientation, in the experience of place.
I explore a variety of book structures to meditate on experience of place: meandering, Jacob’s ladder, prayer book, field notebook, cursive journal. Additionally, in a Tallgrass Sampler Series, I embroider my print work on muslin and vintage cloth.
Now creating larger scale fiber works from hanji, I consider the invitation of the horizon and nexus where cultural understandings of spaces came into collision, particularly in the 19th century, and not unlike the 21st century, as extraction industries endanger environments and life in balance along these westward routes–the lure of Quivira persists.