"Julia Becker: Body of Land" opens at Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art

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"Julia Becker: Body of Land" opens at Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art
Julia Becker, Untitled, 2020, Original watercolor and gouache on paper, 10 x 14 inches.

GREAT FALLS, MT.- Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art invites Julia Becker, a recognized multimedia artist, and Professor of Fine Art at University of Providence in Great Falls Montana, to present a solo exhibition titled Body of Land. Becker’s exhibition is a multi-layered experience which participates in and responds to EXTRACTION: Art on the Edge of the Abyss, a cross-border multimedia environmental intervention and project of the CODEX FOUNDATION. Becker and the museum are pleased to take part in the EXTRACTION movement via the curatorial direction of Nicole Maria Evans, Curator of Exhibitions and Collections.

EXTRACTION: Art on the Edge of the Abyss, is an event created by collaborators and founders Peter Koch, Edwin Charles Dobb (1950-2019,) and Sam Pelts, which is taking place throughout 2021. Their passion and knowledge about global environmental matters and an understanding that art moves people towards action was the impetus for EXTRACTION’s creation. Montana art museums, galleries, and art spaces are specifically engaged in this project because of Peter Koch’s and Edwin Dobb’s deep connection to Montana.

Koch was born in Missoula with a strong family history in the state, he is a letter press printer, bookmaker, writer, and founder of the CODEX Foundation. Dobb was an environmental journalist and photographer for National Geographic who made Butte his home. Together they conceived of this project in 2019 and viewed Montana as a place dear to them and of immediate concern regarding environmental problems. This is a collaborative community driven international movement which brings together artists, curators, writers, dancers, performers, musicians, photographers, and filmmakers together with over 50 museums, galleries, and public performance spaces world-wide to address a single theme: the consumption of the planet’s natural resources, which is the most pressing environmental issue of our time, encompassing all others, including climate change.

Body of Land, at Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art, will showcase the result of Julia Becker’s inquiry and work for her Body of Land project. Video documentation of her body ritual movements, which are site driven, will be incorporated into an installation in the gallery space with the inclusion of Becker’s artist books and paintings/monoprints. Julia Becker maps out the bodily experience within the landscape. Her work is informed by research in topography, neurology, ecology, and is focused on the impact industry has on the land we live on and the bodies we live in.

As a 63-year-old, I trust my process, my deep knowing, my life experience and inclinations. When the Extraction project was brought to my attention, I was inspired to look through decades of work considering the concepts presented and found this vein deep in my life’s work. Having grown up next to what is now a Superfund site, a chemical dump in the middle of Cincinnati, and our family farm where I indulged in quiet time within nature, I was aware of conflicts manmade and natural as a young child. Eventually, I traveled the world with open eyes, taking it all in, and working jobs at the interface (wildlands fire fighter, gardener/farmer, wilderness ranger and trail crew, landscaper for a company who did mine restoration). As a youngster, I made my way to Montana after hiking the Appalachian trail from Virginia to Maine and in desperate need for a long solo walk, in nature, to experience deep Wilderness. Eventually I worked for the Bureau of Land Management and the United States Forest Service in the Wilderness. I did this after studying wilderness ecology in Missoula in the late 1970’s with amazing professors in an interdisciplinary program “Wilderness and Civilization”. Through my many pursuits, I continued to write poetry and create art every day as that has always been my nature.

Body of Land, involves an inquiry into the local landscape where industry happens, people live, and wild nature convene. The great Missouri River and the ancient cottonwoods that stand in its pathway; the dams and their effects on currents, flow, animal life and migration, health, and safety; the toxic dumps and history of dumping into our water veins and arteries; abandoned structures of past exploitation and ravishes of the topography; power lines across every rise of land stirring images of Golgotha. The skeletons and bones of the land.

–Julia Becker, 2021

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