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Julie Schenkelberg

Projects and Process

Julie

Julie Schenkelberg in her studio, Detroit, MI.

Julie Schenkelberg grew up in the post-industrial landscape of Cleveland, Ohio. Her mixed-media installations start with furniture, dishware, textiles, and marble, combined with concrete, resin, and construction materials, to transform notions of domesticity, and engage with the American Rust Belt's legacy of abandonment and decay. Using  architecture and the home as a playground for formal and conceptual subversions, the work aggressively disrupts cohesion within the physical sphere. Familiar furnishings rekindle memories or premonitions of collapse, suggesting both the utter destruction of war, calamities, or urban decay, but also the uncanny juxtapositions of fragile substances such as cloth and china, with industrial materials such as rusty metal, heavy concrete, and tool-made marks such as drilled holes and chain-sawed indentations.

Schenkelberg is well known for her site-specific works that disrupt and emerge from each location. She was the winner of the 2014 ArtPrize Installation Juried Award for her towering installation “Syptomatic Constant”, which spanned the lobby of the a former bank. 

"TransMigration", 2016

For ArtPrize 2016, Schenkelberg moved and transformed an entire house for her piece “TransMigration”, part of curatorial group SiTE:LAB’s Rumsey Street Project. The artist extracted the house to its original structure and made a series of 4′ by 2′ cuts around the exterior and interior, projecting light through it in the evening. A hauntingly spare piece, “TransMigration” gave an abandoned building a new form, excavating and dissecting materials that belong to the history and psychology of the home.

Transmigration

"TransMigration", a project for ArtPrize 2016, in conjunction with SiTE:LAB. House, fabric, and light projection, dimensions variable.

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"TransMigration" in the evening.

Gregory Volk, excerpt from his essay for SiTE:LAB Rumsey Street Project Catalog:

“I came upon a non-finalist house that was at once precarious and exquisite, magical and threadbare; an old, rickety house that Julie Schenkelberg had altered and sculpted, inside and out. I was riveted. White fabric billowed from various apertures. Slots in the façade offered glimpses into the interior. You could look at this house but also, quite literally, through it, to the surrounding environment. When I visited no one was allowed to enter. Still, I pulled strings and made a beeline for the artist, who graciously ushered me inside. Traces of the former inhabitants, including scruffy posters and newspaper clippings on the walls, combined with Schenkelberg’s myriad alterations: a gorgeous circular cut she had made from one wall and installed in a room facing a window, debris swept up just so, openings she had meticulously made in the walls. Part found structure and part made sculpture, this altered house, starkly alone on a vacant lot, was altogether enthralling, and if I had a powerful vote I would have named it, then and there, the top prize winner."

-- Gregory Volk

Moving the house for Julie Schenkelberg's "TransMigration" sculpture, 2016.
 
 
 

 

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Detail, "TransMigration", 2016, house, fabric, and light projection.

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Julie Schenkelberg installing "TransMigration", 2016.

"In Grand Rapids, I was able to be very close to the Roosevelt Park community because I lived there during the Transmigration project, which involved a house that had been present in the community since 1910. I made a sculpture from the entire house while I lived in a house across the street that had been bought by Habitat for Humanity. The house I was living in was scheduled to be demolished to make space for new housing. I lived there for over a year, renovating it and housing artists with the group Site:Lab. That project built a lot of the sensitivity I take with me now. People in the neighborhood would come up to me and ask what I was doing, so person-to-person relationships developed. The neighbors would ask, “Why do you have this house? Why are you doing this in our neighborhood? Why do you live here?” I would say, “Well, this house is going to be demolished. I was gifted this house and this is what I'm doing with it. I want to transform the history of this house and send it on to the next world.” This reverberated with a lot of people and they loved it."

-- Julie Schenkelberg

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Detail, "TransMigration", 2016, house, fabric, and light projection.

Julie Schenkelberg speaks about her practice, "TransMigration", and previous projects at a breakfast hosted by event organizer CreativeMornings, Grand Rapids, September 2016. Schenkelberg's complete talk is available here.
 
 

 

 

 

"Swan Song", 2015

Julie Schenkelberg’s site-specific installation “Swan Song” was part of her 2015 exhibition at Asya Geisberg Gallery, “Embodied Energies”. It traversed the polygon of the gallery walls, creating a variety of experiences for the viewer - encountering the expansive Rabelaisian work from the street, exploring intimate nooks created by claustrophobic canopies, and stumbling on piles of rubble. In a process that began five years previous with the gathering of material from salvage yards, thrift stores, and scouring for family heirlooms, the artist spent ten weeks working in a disused church basement in the Midwest, before transferring “Swan Song” to the gallery, and completing it on site. While wistful in its references of discarded and abandoned wreckage, “Swan Song”, with its minutely crafted details and epic scope, nonetheless gives hope of rebirth for cities such as Detroit, Pittsburgh, and her native Cleveland. The cinders and ashes of broken homes and upturned lives become not just an epitaph for economic downturn but a deeply aesthetic excavation and reinvention.

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"Swan Song", 2015, reclaimed lath, wood, marble, iron, paper, vintage furniture, dishware, figurines, natural debris, crushed reclaimed metal, light fixtures, vintage wedding dresses, bathtub, wallpaper, plaster, and paint.

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Julie Schenkelberg gathering factory glass, Detroit, MI.

"I've had quite a good adventure in getting objects. I've done a couple of shows where there's been an open call for objects. I've given galleries the thesis of the project and they have a day where people bring things that they want to be honored. In Kansas City, we were working in an area where they used to bring all the cattle and we collected material from a two-mile radius only because we wanted the installation to be about that area. For other installations that I’ve created, I've had a vision and a palette and gone to second-hand stores, or I’ve collected things that remind me of what my family would have owned. Sometimes I find the same patterns they’ve had in their homes. Or I collect vintage things that I imagine were ideal to receive when people got married."

-- Julie Schenkelberg

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Detail, "Swan Song", 2015, reclaimed lath, wood, marble, iron, paper, vintage furniture, dishware, figurines, natural debris, crushed reclaimed metal, light fixtures, vintage wedding dresses, bathtub, wallpaper, plaster, and paint.

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Julie Schenkelberg creating the altar for her piece "Swan Song", 2015.

"A lot of my earlier work was about the middle-class trying to appear upper-middle-class and creating the facade of being something you aren’t. One way is through what you own because sometimes you can figure out how to own things you can't afford. The struggle and pain that creates for families became a premise of my work."

-- Julie Schenkelberg

 

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Detail, "Swan Song", 2015, reclaimed lath, wood, marble, iron, paper, vintage furniture, dishware, figurines, natural debris, crushed reclaimed metal, light fixtures, vintage wedding dresses, bathtub, wallpaper, plaster, and paint.

"I wanted to accumulate as much material as I could to make this giant assemblage to have the effect of grandeur and presence. Within the piece were sections of honoring and smaller altars."

-- Julie Schenkelberg

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"Swan Song", 2015, reclaimed lath, wood, marble, iron, paper, vintage furniture, dishware, figurines, natural debris, crushed reclaimed metal, light fixtures, vintage wedding dresses, bathtub, wallpaper, plaster, and paint.

"I don't want to deny the history of the places and I don't want to appropriate other's histories. I want to show beauty, as well as compassion for the experience of trauma. It's a fine line."

-- Julie Schenkelberg

"Reliquary", 2018

“Reliquary”, the central floor installation of Julie Schenkelberg’s 2018 solo exhibition by the same name, suggests a sarcophagus of the future, where artifacts that might ordinarily lay inside the tomb are arranged rhythmically on the exterior, while the interior holds creamy wax casts of dishes, books, and a Virgin Mary altered into the artist's shape. Casts of Schenkelberg's family cutlery, covered in silver gilt, simultaneously suggest contemporary cuneiform and Modernism's stacking and repetition. The orderly exterior belies the rust and broken shards inside - the messy reality of striving for perfections, the hair's breadth between elegance and wealth and crumbling disarray and abandon. Travelling through time, "Reliquary" could be the artist's own repository of relics found in the future or a regurgitated panoply of generations' collections, functioning as reminders of a forgotten glorious past.

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"Reliquary", 2018, burnt wood, marble, hydrocal cast cutlery and dishware, wax cast madonnas and dishware, gauze with indigo dye, and factory found rusted metal, 36h x 51w x 91d in.

"I write a lot about the transformative experience that I want people to have when they see my work. I’m thinking about the phrase, “The poison is what heals.” When we experience trauma we hold it in our bodies and in our lives and we don’t forget it. But what we learn from it and how we express or transform it is the most important thing."

-- Julie Schenkelberg

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Detail, "Reliquary", 2018, burnt wood, marble, hydrocal cast cutlery and dishware, wax cast madonnas and dishware, gauze with indigo dye, and factory found rusted metal, 36h x 51w x 91d in.

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"Reliquary", 2018, burnt wood, marble, hydrocal cast cutlery and dishware, wax cast madonnas and dishware, gauze with indigo dye, and factory found rusted metal, 36h x 51w x 91d in.

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"Homage to Finding", 2017, burnt wood from Detroit homes, wax casts, and silver leaf, 30h x 51w in.
 

Schenkelberg’s opaque casts of factory windows are embedded and impressed with materials directly sourced from Detroit. Wood and mattress springs from houses destroyed by arson, glass chunks from abandoned auto factories that suggest ice floes, rusted metal from manufacturing plants, all harmonize in minimal compositions. Reverential and restrained, the windows isolate and focus on fragments of abandon and disuse, and embellish the pristine white with gold thread and gilt.

MAD Museum Burke Prize

In 2019 Julie Schenkelberg was a Finalist for the Museum of Art and Design (MAD) Burke Prize, and participated in the concurrent exhibition October 19, 2019 - April 20, 2020.

Schenkelberg has created large-scale installations for solo exhibitions at the Red Bull House of Art, Detroit, MI, the Sculpture Center, Cleveland, OH, the Mattress Factory Museum of Contemporary Art, Pittsburgh, PA, Projekstrom Normanns, Stravanger, Norway, the Bemis Center, Omaha, NE, the University of Akron Meyers School of Art, OH, Beeler Gallery, OH, Plug Projects, MO, and UNTITLED Miami Beach, FL. In addition, she has been awarded residencies at Yaddo, NY, Volterra-Detroit Foundation, Italy, Art Omi, NY, Oxbow, Saugatuck, MI, and SiTE:LAB, MI.

To learn more about Julie Schenkelberg, click here.

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Sculpture by Julie Schenkelberg

"Homage to Finding II", 2020
Burnt wood from Detroit homes, wax casts, and silver leaf
28.50h x 50w x 7d in
 

Solicitar información
Sculpture by Julie Schenkelberg

"Full Mary 1", 2018
Gypsum and concrete blend, blue pigment, copper wire
12h x 3.50w x 1.75d in

Solicitar información
Sculpture by Julie Schenkelberg

"Leading Me", 2017

Hydrocal cast frameless leaded window with found factory rust, gold leaf, and 18K gold thread

24h x 15w in

Solicitar información
Sculpture by Julie Schenkelberg

"Secret Window View", 2017
Hydrocal cast frameless leaded window with found metal from burned buildings
24h x 15w in
 

Solicitar información
Sculpture by Julie Schenkelberg

"Multi-Vision", 2017
Hydrocal cast leaded window with blue factory glass and gold leaf
30h x 20w in
 

Solicitar información
Sculpture by Julie Schenkelberg

"Wander-Net", 2017
Hydrocal cast frameless leaded window with found factory rust, gold leaf, and indigo ink
24h x 15w in
 

Solicitar información
Sculpture by Julie Schenkelberg

"Infinite Lake", 2017
Hydrocal cast window with mattress springs and wall supports from burned buildings
15h x 24w in
 

Solicitar información
Sculpture by Julie Schenkelberg

"Overcoming", 2017
Hydrocal cast frameless leaded window with found factory rust and gold leaf
24h x 15w in
 

Solicitar información
Sculpture by Julie Schenkelberg

"Sepia Cast", 2017
Hydrocal cast window with factory found rusted metal
15h x 24w in
 

Solicitar información
Sculpture by Julie Schenkelberg

"Homage to Finding II", 2020
Burnt wood from Detroit homes, wax casts, and silver leaf
28.50h x 50w x 7d in
 

Sculpture by Julie Schenkelberg

"Full Mary 1", 2018
Gypsum and concrete blend, blue pigment, copper wire
12h x 3.50w x 1.75d in

Sculpture by Julie Schenkelberg

"Leading Me", 2017

Hydrocal cast frameless leaded window with found factory rust, gold leaf, and 18K gold thread

24h x 15w in

Sculpture by Julie Schenkelberg

"Secret Window View", 2017
Hydrocal cast frameless leaded window with found metal from burned buildings
24h x 15w in
 

Sculpture by Julie Schenkelberg

"Multi-Vision", 2017
Hydrocal cast leaded window with blue factory glass and gold leaf
30h x 20w in
 

Sculpture by Julie Schenkelberg

"Wander-Net", 2017
Hydrocal cast frameless leaded window with found factory rust, gold leaf, and indigo ink
24h x 15w in
 

Sculpture by Julie Schenkelberg

"Infinite Lake", 2017
Hydrocal cast window with mattress springs and wall supports from burned buildings
15h x 24w in
 

Sculpture by Julie Schenkelberg

"Overcoming", 2017
Hydrocal cast frameless leaded window with found factory rust and gold leaf
24h x 15w in
 

Sculpture by Julie Schenkelberg

"Sepia Cast", 2017
Hydrocal cast window with factory found rusted metal
15h x 24w in