Julie Speidel revealed herself as a burgeoning sculptor before most visit their first museum. An early childhood art assignment on Bolivia unearthed her vision and artistic inclination after she masterfully layered colored circles of paper to create indigenous pollera dresses. “I’ve been interested in three- dimensional shapes ever since,” she muses. That same spatial sensitivity and cultural appreciation has developed today into an internationally recognized style. Her work is synonymous with an abstract modernism that harks back to Henry Moore and Picasso, but lately the Vashon Island local is finding inspiration in prehistoric art and eastern influences. “Sculpture should have a certain mystery, a power that you can’t explain,” she says. And so, her modern figures of bronze, marble, basalt and cast glass are more about experience and energy rather than interpretation. Quite likely it’s this very je ne se quoi that captivates gallery owners and private collectors alike. “People are drawn to imbalanced balance,” she says. “I feel the energy in materials and create an entity that feels true to me.”
LX: Greatest influence:
JS: Visiting San Sebastian, Spain—once home to sculptor Eduardo Chillida. He lived on the Bay of Biscay, and he put his Peine del Viento out over the water on a rock and another sculpture on the hillside. The point was not to look at the sculptures alone but to look through them, so they activated the space. I felt I was there to learn that lesson.
LX: I’m excited by:
JS: Jeff Koons. I saw his polychrome Tulips recently and they are magical. He is boldly using technology, scale and materials to create something wonderful.
LX: I’m reading:
JS: The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance, by ceramicist Edmund de Waal. It’s a true story about how objects can speak to someone’s love of beauty and tradition.
LX: Current project:
JS: Sculpture in the Landscape, an installation in The Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island. It has meandering paths in the forest, bird marshes, a Japanese garden and a house on a terrain that leads down to the shoreline, where I will create 12 pieces to engage the landscape and bring new light to the view.