“Free, loose, colorful, happy” are words that Julie Silvers uses to describe her art. While angst is a common theme in art, Silvers’ works articulate the uncontainable positivity and exuberance that reside in her soul.
“My art makes me happy and I want it to make others happy,” she says.
Inspired by her mother, artist Susan Wittenberg, Silvers began working in clay in the late ‘80s creating bowls and plates decorated with whimsical female nudes – born years earlier as doodles on her school textbooks. Judy at the Rink and Interiors & Extras (no longer in business), did brisk sales of the one-of-a-kind designs, which locals embraced with enthusiasm.
Gradually, her métier expanded to include pieces that are as timeless and exuberant as the joyful, celebratory human emotion that shapes them: earthy nubile goddesses, worshipful totems and candlesticks of stacked geometric forms, and femininely-curved white vessels. All are worked completely by hand rather than with tools and have an ancient quality, like artifacts unearthed during an archaeological dig.
When Country Day asked Silvers and Wittenberg to have a mother/daughter show in 2002, she also began painting multimedia abstract canvases that dance with color and variant shapes. There are textured acrylics, watercolors on paper and paintings with a glossy, resin finish.
She finds inspiration for them in the abstraction of her mother’s paintings, the colorful symbolism and geometry of Ida Kohlmeyer’s paintings and sculpture and in the childlike looseness and spontaneity that characterize works by Basquiat.
Fashion – she keeps of a file of pages from Vogue – also inspires her use of pattern.
Both her ceramics and paintings are designed to be grouped together. She typically produces a series of multiple pieces simultaneously and says they are often purchased in groups. Yet they stand on their own and mix effortlessly with one another.
Eight years ago, after selling her pieces through a variety of sources, including Soren Christensen Gallery in New Orleans and Kuhl-Linscomb, a fashionable home furnishings store in Houston, she ventured out on her own, opening a Julia Street gallery, where her art could be viewed under one roof. Three years ago, she moved Julie Silvers Art to its current Magazine Street location. She also uses Instagram to show new work, which following a recent trip to Singapore she expects to evolve in a more linear manner. “Everything visual inspires me,” she says. “Art, architecture, nature, travel.”