Your Ah Haa Moment: “Being Human” opens August 24

Your Ah Haa Moment: “Being Human” opens August 24

[click “Play” to hear susan’s conversation with Julie McNair]

Head shot 2009 copy Sculptor and long-time Telluride local Julie McNair makes doll-like figures – but don’t be thinking of Barbie. Barbie has curves. McNair’s whimsical creations throw you a few.

Dolls have a history dating back 25,000 years. The earliest dolls evolved out of a  spiritual context and were used in a wide variety of rituals and ceremonies to heal the sick, make barren women fertile, capture the spirit of an enemy, influence the outcome of love and war. Shaman are known to have worn dolls on collars and belts. The use of dolls in the voodoo religion is the stuff of B movies.

Cover1 copy Julie McNair’s figures evolved out of that long tribal history, but their origins can also be traced directly to her personal history, specifically that of her grandmother, an antique dealer in Tyler, Texas. Grandma had a 500-piece doll collection, froufrou porcelain beauties granddaughter helped refurbish.

McNair has mined this rich history to make fantastical clay images that, like their cultural antecedents make an invisible life visible: namely hers. McNair’s doll-like forms are at once ironic and allegorical, personal and universal, but always, they are magically expressive and tinged with pathos and/or humor. (McNair is blessed with a rapier wit.)

Relic2 copy A figure might articulate deep-seated emotions, (Access Denied) reflect memories that won’t go away (Grace) and embody social commentary (Relic, An Offering), but in the end they are all about feelings, specifically, according to the artist, about one’s personal sense of power: we accept ours or we don’t, for better or for worse.

If Julie McNair’s work of the past five years – the show represents only a fraction of her total output –  reflects the human condition, McNair herself is tight-lipped about her conclusions. She leaves it up to us to say what condition our condition is in.

Artist’s reception is August 27, 5  – 7 p.m. at Ah Haa’s Daniel Tucker Gallery, 300 South Townsend. The event is co-promoted by the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art.

For more about the work, click the “play” button and listen to Julie McNair’s podcast.

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