Bust a Fit: Julia Briggs

Sr. Julia Briggs draws inspiration for her artwork from her hometown of Detroit BYRON MASON II

Byron Mason: Tell me a bit about what you’re wearing today.

Julia: Today, I am wearing my chucks. White chucks. I’ve got my black jeans and a Detroit tee.

Byron: I know this is fashion, but I want to talk about your art too. How do you think you’re hometown of Detroit has influenced your art? If at all.

Julia: Well, I guess right now, in my paintings, I’m painting a lot of wood and rocks as the background. And I think maybe it has to do with growing up in Michigan and being around so many lakes and woods. Otherwise, what I wear, like the rolled pants and closed toed shoes. I think what I’m wearing is very tomboyish, but a lot of artists wear kind of like this as an aesthetic choice.

B: Does your necklace have any significance?

J: Yeah actually. Ok, so I’ve got a meteor on and a turquoise rock from Africa. The meteor is, this dude on the side of street was selling them, so I bought one. And then I go to the geo department here and [Professor] Jim [Mills] tells me that it’s an iron core of a protoplanet that most likely landed in Russia. He knew just by looking at it which was kind of funny. And then my turquoise I got in Africa from this dude named Master Rocky. And you can tell it’s South African turquoise because of the copper; I don’t know if it’s copper but the gold cracks.

B: So you went to Africa for art?

J: So, I’m a Media Fellow too and I had to do an internship off campus. So I went to Africa for a kinda photography internship, but while I was there, I also had an art residency with South African artists and I painted and made miniature sculptures.

B: So how do you think that kind of influenced your aesthetics or at least how you create art?

J:  Africa, South Africa in particular, Cape Town, is so colorful. People are just happy all the time, and I think being surrounded by colors influences your mood. I say this and I’m dressed in all black or gray right now. But I heard somewhere by a Pagan, I used to deliver for Marvin’s, and a fellow delivery driver Casey Keen told me that wearing all black neutralizes your mood and it's more inviting to the colors around you. And she’s a witch, and I’m not exaggerating; she, like, actually practices Pagan rituals and spells.

B: So black and gray are your main colors. Have you ever felt like going across the spectrum?

J: Well, I guess I’m wearing black and gray today, but I don’t think it’s most of what I wear. I do wear a lot of graphic t-shirts and they’re normally like black or like dark colored tie dye with whatever on them, but I love purples, dark greens, and blues.

B: And so the graphic tees is kind of like the artist's aesthetic too?

J: I love graphic tees ‘cause they are kind of art, and you gotta show what you know. I thought about wearing my Wheezer shirt today, but I went with Detroit.

B: What significance does your tattoo have?

J: So, this I actually got in Africa. The two people here, this is from a painting by another artist Nicole Eisenman, and she’s super famous- has a solo exhibition somewhere in LA right now, but she’s from New York. She went to [Rhode Island School of Design] RISD for her MFA and and she studies queer studies, love and relationships, self portrayal, and, like, social inequality and whatnot. She’s queer. She’s really cool. And then I added the cat myself. I drew that one ‘cause I think that they needed it. They needed, you know, a family.

B: So you were talking about her being queer and how she incorporates that into her art. Are there any kind of specific themes that you think about when creating yours?

J: So, right now, I’m focusing on self portraiture. So sometimes, I’m like oh my gosh I’m too in my head about myself.

B: What do you mean ‘too in your head?’

J: Too in my head like I’m thinking ‘oh my gosh, what does this painting mean.’ Like, I’m painting self portraits right now. I must be super narcissistic or something but it’s more of trying to figure out who I am. How I’m situated in my life right now because I’m graduating soon so it’s kind of difficult knowing where I’ll end up and there’s a lot of strings pulling me different ways. And so by painting myself over and over and over again in different places or sitting down with different expressions, I can somehow learn more about where I’m going or what I’m doing.

B: So you mean like strings pulling you away art wise or just life wise?

J: Life wise, art, I mean I’ve always been rooted in painting, primarily, but I keep on going back to sculpture or photography. I love all three of these things, but right now, I can only paint because it’s for my senior show.