January 14 – March 2, 2022
The Roll Up Project is pleased to present textile fabrications by Julia Couzens. While Couzens has worked across many media during her career, textile-based constructions have been a primary focus over the last two decades.
Couzens approaches found and sourced material like a painter uses dabs of paint on a palette. She researches colors or textures that suit her needs, and applies them to the surface of her composition using running stitches. Many materials are sourced from the bins at Goodwill warehouses, the final domestic stop on a garment’s journey before it’s shipped abroad or destroyed. In these bins, all textiles are equal – brand names, garment types, and fiber contents are no longer relevant, and instead texture and color take center stage.
Flip the Spin (2022) fills the window on Harrison Street. Couzens uses green blanket wool as the compositional focal point, its splat-like shape outlined with a wooly yarn in variegated grays and cream. Several knots or spirals of yarn congregate at the edges, while other strands unfurl into draped arcs and lines. Couzens’s painterly linework is apparent in these yarns and in the stitched white and yellow strips of fabric traversing the background. Some form map-like grids, while others bend and move freely across the fabrication. Her work strikes a balance between improvisational gestures and formal composition, creating a palpable sense of energy and movement.
In the Third Street windows, a piece titled Dreamer (2022) features a red stuffed animal’s foot connected to a rectangular panel by a thick hand-stitched red cord or rope. The panel features two spirals of cords, funneling tornado-like into infinity at the center. Delicate tulle and sequins frame or drip from the spirals, creating a striking contrast of texture, color, and weight. The boot-like stuffed foot of ambiguous meaning adds significant conceptual and formal weight to the piece. It might be a sort of anchor in a galactic landscape, or a metaphorical tether to old memories, or simply a dimensional red shape in conversation with the rectangular panel. The viewer is given space to look at the complex composition, then move closer to see Couzens’s improvisational handwork.
Couzens essentially draws and paints with a needle and thread. Her work expands the dialog of contemporary abstraction and celebrates texture, form, and color in a fresh and new way. The resulting artworks also reflect the way artists see the potential in everyday objects, including discarded or forgotten ones. Artists like Couzens view these as raw materials still holding transformative potential, rather than as exhausted goods.
About the Artist
Artist and writer Julia Couzens has created distinct bodies of work in drawing, sculpture, and installation. Since the early 2000s her textile-based constructions have taken shape between the disciplines of craft, painting, and sculpture. Couzens layers ruminations on formalist abstraction, the expressive character of materiality, feminist critique, and cognitive uncertainty into speculative assemblages, seeking enchantment in a provisional world.
She’s been recognized with a Louis Comfort Tiffany Fellowship; an Art Matters Visual Artist Fellowship; and a Roswell Museum and Art Center Artist-in-Residence grant. In 2019 her work was featured in the international Cheongju Contemporary Craft Biennale, South Korea. In 2021 a book, Textile Tags/Julia Couzens was published in conjunction with her solo exhibition at Patricia Sweetow Gallery, San Francisco. Couzens has shown in scores of museum and gallery exhibitions throughout the United States and internationally. Notable public collections include the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco; Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive; Butler Institute of American Art; Crocker Art Museum; Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, University of California, Davis; Oakland Museum of California; Weatherspoon Art Museum; and Yale University Art Gallery.
Born and raised in Auburn, California, Couzens received her M.F.A. in 1990 from the University of California, Davis. She currently divides her time between Merritt Island, outside the Sacramento River delta community of Clarksburg and Los Angeles.