In 1986, Ariel Chu’s parents immigrated from Taiwan to the United States. In Taiwan, her parents were both engaged in their passions—her father was a well-known programmer and her mother a beloved Chinese literature teacher. The political and economic uncertainty…
Painting Student Illustrates Confidence, Complexities of Subjects
Julie Pratt’s painted portraits are bold, colorful. They are people of various sizes, confident and complex. Pratt ’16 taps into her subjects as emotional beings and expresses that on canvas, capturing them in larger-than-life paintings.
“People inspire me. People of all shapes and sizes but mostly people who are traditionally thought of as ugly or different,” says Pratt, a painting major in the College of Visual and Performing Arts. “People are so full of emotions and contradictions that they are always interesting to me.”
Her six-foot-tall artwork, one a triptych, has within the past several months exhibited at the Art Gallery at May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society and the Sutton Pavilion gallery space at Syracuse Stage. Her work blends themes of gender identity, unconventional beauty and personal power.
The shows came about after Pratt was approached by Kristina Starowitz, public relations manager for Syracuse Stage, who had seen Pratt’s art and asked if she would be interested in exhibiting her work.
“Of course I said yes and have enjoyed working with her tremendously,” Pratt says. “She is now representing me and getting other shows lined up for me. I am truly blessed.”
Pratt, who is from Liverpool, N.Y., was about 8 years old when she knew she wanted to be an artist. She was always drawing and then started painting when she was about 16.
After enrolling in a college in Virginia, Pratt left after a semester; it just wasn’t for her. In her 20s, she began a homeschool art class for her sister and cousins who were homeschooled at the time.
“I found that this was what I was meant to do—teach drawing skills to homeschoolers. I started a little business and taught for three years,” Pratt says.
To advance further as a teacher, Pratt decided to go back to school. Up until the age of 30, when she started at Syracuse, she was self-taught.
Pratt entered the art education program but is currently finishing her senior year in the painting program in VPA’s School of Art.
Pratt, who counts Van Gogh, the Fauves and the German Expressionists as artists who have influenced her work and her use of color and texture, is continuing her work with portraits and figure painting but is also going back to her roots in drawing.
“I am working on a couple of portraits with just pencil and charcoal—it feels wonderful to use such simple tools again and create something beautiful,” says Pratt, who will be showing her work in the upcoming B.F.A. exhibition in the Comstock Art Facility. “I also try to incorporate pattern and texture into my work whenever possible.”
After graduation, Pratt, who teaches art classes to youngsters at the Everson Museum, hopes to continue teaching there and continue painting and drawing to be able to show more work. Her master plan is to have her own studio where she can both work and teach.
Along with the many opportunities that she has had, Pratt is grateful for the support of her husband of 21 years, Ian.
“He is so supportive of my adventures in the art world. I couldn’t ask for more,” Pratt says.