Showcasing the Arts

 

Sept. 2014 Featured Artist:
Julie Warren Conn


 

Julie Warren Conn cutting 
    stone with a pneumatic saw.As a journalist recently observed regarding my work, I like to leave "no stone unturned." During the past forty years, I have carved rocks of all types — assorted marble, limestone, white and colored alabaster, soapstone, onyx, imported and domestic travertine and granite, ultra-hard jade and basalt.

In my Winchester studio, I enjoy having four or five pieces in process at a time. I typically begin by choosing a stone and drawing defining lines on it. Next, I use a 25-pound pneumatic saw to cut the lines. Then, with a hammer and chisel, I break away the cuts. Once the stone is roughed out, I use grinders and sanders to smooth the rock. Finally, I spend many hours hand-sanding to achieve the final, polished surface.

Quite often, I select rocks which already have interesting shapes formed by Mother Nature. One such work, Carmen, was cut from a naturally formed, ten-ton boulder of Tennessee marble that I found in an abandoned quarry. With the help of a huge crane, the 12-feet-long rock was pulled from the pit and delivered to my work area, where I sculpted it for many months. Another large commission, Trilogy, was cut from three, 20-ton blocks of travertine from New Mexico. By the time it was completed a year later, the initial 60 tons of rock had been reduced to 30 tons. From that laborious experience, I developed a system for using foundry or quarry assistants in helping to fabricate the huge works.

When sculpting, I often create organic form for form's sake pieces, but at other times I produce abstract or figurative work. Sizes of my sculptures vary greatly from several inches to many feet tall. When producing a commissioned piece, I interact closely with the client in developing a desired concept.

In recent years, I have been casting some of my stone sculptures in bronze. Working directly with a metal foundry, I guide the complex process of making a mold from the original stone form, pouring and refining the sculptural shape, and using a chemical technique to create the desired patina and finish.

When my husband retired as a university president, he drew me to Kentucky where he had spent much of his early career. Although a native Tennessean, I quickly became attached to the incredible beauty and pleasing lifestyle of Kentucky, particularly the bluegrass region. The spirited horses of this area thrill and fascinate me and have influenced several of my recent creations.

Inspiration for my work comes from personal relationships, the wonders of nature, the fascinating mosaic of human cultures and a broad range of sculptures from around the world. Since the late 1990s, I have instructed art classes on ocean cruises, traveling to many countries and all of the earth's continents. Experiencing the art treasures of many lands and people gives me fresh ideas and renews my motivation for sculpting.

Julie Warren Conn was featured in Kentucky Homes and Gardens, Jan./Feb. 2014.

Julie Warren Conn
Lexington, Ky., with a studio in Winchester, Ky.

Telephone: 859-523-5551
Email: juliewarrenconn@aim.com
Web: www.juliewarrenconn.com

 

Page last updated: June 8, 2016
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