Forlorn 5 © Julia Martin

Julia  Martin’s work was selected as an Outstanding Body of Work in the2019 Denis Roussel Award by juror Jesseca Ferguson. We are pleased to feature her work here on Rfotofolio.

Would you please tell us a little about yourself?

I’m originally from Golden, Colorado but am currently living in Phoenix, Arizona. Before coming to Arizona I spent some time working at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops in Santa Fe, New Mexico and at Aperture in New York City.

My work tends to deal with the themes of death, mortality, and the fragility of life. I love working with my hands and using different processes and materials to convey these themes.

Where did you get your photographic training?

I started photography in high school and fell in love with the darkroom. I went on to receive my BA in photography from Montana State University, and I am currently pursuing my MFA in photography at Arizona State University.

Why do you create?

Creating fills my soul in a way that nothing else ever could. It is a way to truly express myself and to feel comfortable being myself.

Who has had an influence on your creative process?

I saw the work of Francesca Woodman and Jerry Uelsmann early on, and seeing their work is what inspired me to become a photographer. Recently I’ve been taking a romantic approach to the landscape in my work, so I’ve been looking at the work of photographers such as Sally Mann and Jungjin Lee.

I’ve also been fortunate to have some incredible mentors, both in school and out of it, and each has helped me with developing my process and keeping me inspired. Susan Burnstine in particular has been such a wonderful mentor and friend to me, and is always able to help me get past a creative block. I don’t think I’d be where I am in my work and career without her friendship.

Please tell us about an image (not your own) that has stayed with you over time. 

There are a few images that have had a great impact on me and the way I work, but the one that has really stuck with me is Empty Room, 1992 by Mark Citret. I’m always surprised that this image has had the impact on me that it has, considering that it has little to do with my own work. However, this image is so beautiful in its simplicity and teaches so much about the importance of form, composition, and light within the frame. I could stare at this image all day.

What image of yours would you say taught you an important lesson? 

I think every failed image teaches you a lesson and helps you to move forward in your work.

What makes a good day for you creatively speaking?

A day that I can fully spend making and can come up with at least one image that I’m happy with. A lot of my processes are prone to failure and it’s such a good feeling when everything works out and my concepts come across via an aesthetically beautiful image.

© Julia Martin
© Julia Martin

Please tell us about the work you submitted for the Denis Roussel Award. 

This work was photographed in the ghost town of Bannack, Montana. Bannack has had a turbulent past and was fully abandoned in the 1950s. Since its desertion, it has been kept in the same condition, stuck in time. I printed these images as cyanotype over platinum/palladium prints. The warm and cool tones in this duotone express the sad past of the place and how it is stuck, not moving forwards or backwards.

If you could spend a day with any other photographer or artist living or passed who would it be?

Do I have to pick just one? At the moment, though, I’d have to say Sally Mann. Her work is so spectacular and her processes so wonderfully experimental. I’d love to spend the day with her photographing with large view cameras and working with chemicals, talking about mortality and the poetry of the land.

How important is the photographic community to you?

I feel so incredibly lucky to have the support of so many people in the photo community. I can’t even begin to express how much staying involved in the community means to me and how much I love everyone I’ve met in it.

What equipment have you found essential in the making of your work?

My favorite camera is a Mamiya RB67. It’s what I used for the project submitted for the Denis Roussel Award and what I use for all of my color work. I’m constantly using different cameras though – I have about five (all analogue) in heavy rotation. Each has a different purpose and a different feel to me. I usually haul most or all of them on any shoot, and decide on the spot which camera feels right to me.

Is there something in photography that you would  like to try in the future?

So many things! I’ve been wanting to get into glasswork and incorporating my photography into stained glass. There are also a variety of ideas I have for using different materialities and my own takes on alternative processes.

What’s on the horizon?

In my current series, Earth Consuming / Light Embracing, I’ve been using different forms of materiality (such as inkjet prints on silk and inkjet prints on kozo backed with silver leaf and 24k gold leaf) with images of the landscape and self. I’ve been using fogged film intermittently for this. In this work I’m exploring the relationship of the body and the land, and the cycle of death and rebirth within the land. I plan on continuing this work for the recent future, but I have a few other things in the works.

To learn more about the work of Julia Martin please visit her site at Julia Martin.

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