Julie Baldyga's Heavenly People
In Heaven Everyone Will Shake Your Hand
On View April 17 - August 16, 2020
Born in Louisville, KY in 1957, it was clear by the age of two that Julie Baldyga would forge her own creative path through life. Primarily educated at home, she would often turn the family living environment into an art installation inspired by her father's job working on the machines at a whiskey bottling plant.
Her earliest drawings showed a fixation on small animals, but quickly turned to babies and children, many of whom are identified as specific playmates, siblings, and relatives. She was particularly fixated on hands, grabbing and examining the hands of nearly every stranger she met. Working mostly in oil pastel, this focus would find its way into images of hybrid animals such as birds, squirrels and bumblebees, all rendered with human hands. This would soon shift to spirited scenes of mechanics, engineers and scientists with Baldyga’s now signature stylized hands. Spurred by the machines from her father’s work, the fascination with mechanical systems grew stronger with motors, wires, spark plugs, turbines and other related tools commonly appearing in both her two- and three-dimensional works. In recent years she has directed more time to an ongoing series she refers to as Heavenly People. These life-size human figures are constructed from the inside out, containing batting, plastic bags, wire and other form filling materials as substitutions for organs, bones, intestines and other anatomical features. She believes her late family, friends and beloved celebrities will inhabit these surrogate forms when she goes to Heaven.
Her images depict the activities she engages in with friends from StudioWorks and Zoom Group, where she creates art on a daily basis with other creatives who present their unique perspectives on life. Baldyga considers all of her work to be pictures of heaven, representing all cultures and nationalities. She is particularly fascinated by women manipulating fuses, engines and generators, and working trades like auto mechanic, shipbuilder, electrician or power plant operator.
Her exhibition here at KMAC will open on the occasion of the release of her book with the Louisville Story Program, In Heaven Everyone Will Shake Your Hand: The Art of Julie Baldyga.
Julie Baldgya (2013)