Visiting Artist: Julie Poitras Santos

We were the hotdog stand that comes in for the hour at noon, in the center of the plaza, leaving barely a trace. For those who missed Julie Poitras Santosʼ artist talk on Tuesday, March 15, the ʻmissingʼ eyes and ears for such a showing served to prove that the rest of us, who did take in her stories of travel, land, and reference, might now occupy a similar narrative in the liminal landscape she spoke of in her talk.


Raised in Maine, Julie spoke of her eventual travels (away from Maine) that took her to Boston, Boulder, the Netherlands, Barcelona, France, and various cities in various other countries. Starting as a sculptor and ceramicist, Julie began to examine in her work, the elements of clay, the powders and slips, and she used her body and and other physical instruments to create performances that were about space and time. She sought to stretch by unconventional means, rituals of expansion and contraction, and she examined boundaries of deeper meaning, richer experience, and a suspended sensibility. Works that took her around the globe are documented exquisitely as simple paths that show desire, or acquisition; but she always turns it around, delayed, but in motion toward a full circle, or a return. The narrative of missing water, she turned into a ritual moment in time, that almost seemed like a prayer, or a display of dedication, by carrying a glass of water to the thirsty source, and dumping it in, letting go of the outcome, leaving the action as an offering, symbolic of a moments in time, lost.


As in most ritual acts, there is a ceremonial presence at play in Julieʼs work, and as she showed stills of her many walks, performances, and engagements, we witnessed these narratives, as uncharacterized personal and communal rites of passage. A practitioner
of Aikido, a martial art, Julie feels that we must be physical if we are to practice artmaking.
Her discipline in all areas of her practice is impeccable. She is deeply in her work, and yet, she follows what grows out of the work; attention is given to the poetry, the density, and the spaces between.