Julia Bottoms, one of Villa Maria’s adjunct art faculty members, currently has an exhibit on display at the Buffalo Arts Studio.
According to the Buffalo Arts Studio website, Bottoms’ exhibit, “Because We Should” includes four canvases that feature single figures at nearly double life size. Each is named for the model and each demands the viewers’ attention. Bottoms captures the beautiful individuality of her models, including personal style choices like hair color, nail polish, tattoos, and jewelry. Along with the physical pose and facial expression, Bottoms uses colors and brushstrokes to convey something deeper about each of the models. She also intentionally blurs a section of each portrait, suggesting that there is an energy that runs through and connects everyone.
Bottoms also created a series of four portraits where the subjects emerge from, and move beyond, various shapes and colors. The four portraits are heroic in scale, painted on 36-inch square canvases. The figures are expertly rendered, carrying a sculptural weight against the intentionally flat backgrounds. The portraits are separated by five rectangular canvases, each showing a single stem of a decorative plant floating in front of a geometric shape. Bottoms sees each flower as a metaphor for the ways society isolates and commodifies Black beauty. Bottoms notes, “our culture seeks out the beauty of Blackness, cuts it from its roots, rearranges it, throws it in a vase and consumes it until it’s no longer that beautiful, living plant it was, but rather an edited withering thing in a vase.” Together, the series functions like metopes and triglyphs on the frieze of a Doric Greek temple, constructing a timeless narrative of Black power and Black beauty.
Bottoms is an oil painter and muralist who rejects the hyper-sexual, violent, and sinister portrayal of people of color that too often saturates the media. Her large-scale paintings on unstretched canvas honor the individuality and character of each of the people she paints. She believes that making art that celebrates Black bodies and Black creatives begins with acknowledging the power of the individuals during the photoshoot. Bottoms photographs her models herself, using the intimacy of the session to develop mutual trust and respect. She reassures the models that they hold the power in the studio space during the sessions. Bottoms sees herself in the dynamic young people she paints and although she employs poses and props in the tradition of the classic nude, the figures are strikingly contemporary.
In addition to her current exhibit, Bottoms has displayed work in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Burchfield Penney Art Center, Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center, and more. She has been the keynote speaker at several notable events, including the 2019 ASI Professional Development Conference, 2018 New York State Art Teachers Association Conference, 2018 Open Buffalo Emerging Leaders Informational, and more. She has won several awards and was featured on HBO’s television series, “Insecure.”
Bottoms received a Bachelor of Science in Art in May 2012, completed a post-baccalaureate certification program in art education in 2014 and earned her Master’s in multidisciplinary fine arts studies in 2017, all from the State University College at Buffalo. She joined Villa Maria College in 2019.
Learn more about Because We Should here: www.buffaloartsstudio.org/events/julia-bottoms-because-we-should
Learn more about Julia Bottoms and her art here: www.juliabottoms.com
Learn more about Villa Maria’s Fine Art program here: www.villa.edu/academics/fine-arts