Inside the Studio

Julie Sneed explores the connections that unify us.

What are the major themes you pursue in your work?

Much of my work is a reflection of natural subjects and settings. I grew up on a farm in Kansas, and spent a few years after college working in journalism and photography in a metro area. So I’m perpetually torn between life in the country and in the city. But as a plus, I’ve been able to pull from a variety of sources.

The main theme of my current body of work is connection. When I was working in journalism, I traveled to the Middle East for work, and I remember being almost surprised to hear birds chirping on the Syrian border just like they do on the safe and happy farm I grew up on. The birds, the wind, the rain, there is no difference in nature – our access to it, and reliance on it – from Iraq to Oklahoma. The farmer in Lebanon is pleading for a rain just like the farmer in California. The couple at the luxury resort in Thailand is enjoying the same ocean sounds as the couple in Sierra Leone. There is that connection to nature we all have. I seek to evoke that feeling of connection in my work. To the soil, to the land, to each other. In abstract work, to the earth and water, with india ink markings spelling out the abstractions. Other work is geared toward animal life. The long legs of the animals in my pieces being in relation to this connection.

I spent a lot of time in my twenties visiting art museums and galleries, exploring technique and style and learning the history of pieces. The work that most resonated with me was when a piece had a style I could appreciate and a theme I could connect with. That’s the aim, and I love the challenge of it.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?

Less is sometimes more.

Prefer to work with music or in silence?

Typically music. The National, Rhye, London Grammar, Chris Stapleton, Jamestown Revival, AC/DC, Reggae. I have eclectic days. I love it all, and I think it has an impact on how certain pieces develop.

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?

Currently, I would go for a Kristin Baker. I love the movement and flow of her work. Otherwise anything Cy Twombly, Marc Chagall, Jackson Pollock.

Who are your favorite writers?

I don’t necessarily have a favorite, but I like historical fiction and biographies. I could pour over art and design, travel and geography books for days.

About the Author

Katherine Henning is Senior Associate Curator at Saatchi Art. Need help finding art? Contact her via our free Art Advisory service here.