Helen Wong speaks with textile artist Julia Mior about how she came to rug-making, as well as her work's influences and intentions. We love her work, and it's a treat to get a peek behind the curtain! Enjoy!
Clad in a black and white checkered trench coat, high waisted blue jeans and a white tee, Julia Mior embodies the Vancouver artist. Operating out of her studio on South Granville, Mior creates beautifully woven canvasses that explore the power of the gaze and the gender dynamics present within textile art.
Mior studied painting at Emily Carr and had taken up embroidery in her practise. After a friend had shared a Youtube video of a man hand tufting, Mior decided to abandon the slow process of embroidery and explore rug making. Using hand tufting, Mior creates her work using a small tufting gun that punches wool into a canvas. “The drawing process is such a battle for me, but the making is like meditation. I think pushing through [the creative process] is really good for me. I’m already going to be overwhelmed by the idea of what I’m making or what I’m not making. So it’s really nice to have a process where I’m able to draw and be feverish about that and then take a break to tuft and cycle through it”, Mior explains.
As Mior continues to learn and refine the process of her making, the resulting images of her work are striking, yet offer a balance of form, shape and colour. Most of her work incorporates the female nude and asks the viewer to consider the male dominated gaze. Atypical of a painting that is viewed hung on a wall, the experience of viewing Mior’s work from above directly acknowledges a shift in power. The viewer is thrust into a male dominated arena and observes the distorted female body that Mior presents below.
Mior describes that she is “negotiating with the relationship between fine art, the ground, the gaze, and how it is all affected. It’s a little dark, but I’m trying to keep it light, all my pictures are quite optimistic, where the figures are dancing or doing something fun.” A large part of Mior’s practise is making it accessible, whether in the medium, image, or material. In a sense, Mior is literally taking high art and placing it on the floor, considering the balance between craft and art.
Mior calls herself “Instagram’s #1 looker”, as she is inspired and influenced by the images that she comes across online. It’s impossible to ignore the references to Matisse and Picasso in her work—take a look at the motif of the leaves and the depiction of the body. In this way, Mior borrows tropes from a male-dominated practice and calls into question larger themes of appropriation and objectification of the body.
Although Mior is relatively new to this artistic medium (she only started hand tufting rugs a year ago) her progress demonstrates her capabilities in creating accessible designs that explore the themes inherent in textile art.
Helen Wong is an arts writer based in Vancouver. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Art History. She is currently the Manager of Individual Giving at the Arts Club and the Fair Coordinator for the Vancouver Art Book Fair. Her writing has been published in Galleries West, Blackflash Magazine and Canadian Art among others.