Julia Shepley


Excerpt from review: by B Amore 4/26/22

...."Carry", which stretches over five feet, is a tour de force of Shepley's unique construction methods. A combination of wheelchair and medical stretcher forms joined by waxed linen thread, it portrays both strength and fragility....."Carry" is imbued with Shepley's joy in open-ended exploration and her immersion in the spirit of each work. Patient experimentation, long hours in the studio, and consummate skill have produced a group of sculptures that allow us to follow her journey into form. Read More

Review: B. Amore, "Debra Weisberg & Material Drawing Redux", Sculpture Magazine, 2022

Shepley's "Striking a Light" series was inspired by black match strikes on the stone facade of the courthouse in Edinburgh, Scotland. She uses raw pigment in her cast paper molds to give delicate color to these three-dimensional drawings, which incorporate fragments of Audrey Henderson's poems on the same theme. The dynamic and layered marks, which resemble prison bars, were made with real matches. Read More

Elizabeth Michelman, "Poems, Plaster & Paper: More Than Words at Simmons", Artscope Magazine, 2018

A skilled printmaker, Shepley incorporates repeated marks and multiples in layered 3-D works hinting at voids, separation and leaps of light. Read More

Doug Holder, Poets/ Artists Ponder 'Breath and Matter', Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene, 2018

Keith Powers, "Julia Shepley presents thought-provoking series of small works at Montserrat", North Shore Sunday Magazine, 2017

Meaning falls secondarily to the artistic quality. These works are gorgeously, intentionally crafted, rich in visual interest. Many three-dimensional hanging works inhabit a halfway-house of artistic intention - not quite seeming like paintings, not looking like sculpture either. These works feel organic - like they could not be anything else but what they are. Read More

Cate McQuaid, "Sculptures with dynamism", The Boston Globe, 2015

In Julia Shepley's eloquent sculptures at Boston Sculptors Gallery, the shadows hold equal weight with the art itself. She builds layered, translucent mobiles with fiber sheets and boning; she draws and stitches over them; she cuts into them. The Tethering Home and Locus series conjure memory's glimpses of a house left behind long ago. Windows, stairways, and bits of furniture appear; then the mobile catches a breeze and they move away. What looks like a bench on one panel casts a shadow that morphs into a piano or a bed. Shepley's many layers, in drawings and in sculptures, depict the beautiful murk of our imaginations, casting gems to the surface and pulling them back into the deep. Read More

Alicia Faxon, "New sculpture: defying gravity", Art New England, 2014

Julia Shepley uses the very ephemeral element of shadows in her work. Interested in the layers of space and time, Shepley uses thread as a medium to draw in three dimensions. “Shadows are evocative, capturing the spirit of the object and adding an abstract quality that the physical thing doesn't have,” says Shepley. “The shadow elements in my work suggest the inner life of the concept. I work with phrases, poems, ideas, and translate them into thread, rope, wood, wire, and Plexiglas, connecting them together to create a configuration that changes as I work on it. In Sky Habitation, shown at the Boston Sculptors Gallery, elements were added on, changed, and then suggested new connections and configurations.” Shepley's work, perhaps the most immaterial of the sculptures considered, combines positive and negative space, art and science, and concept and realization in elegant and evocative ways.

Jane Ingram Allen, "Julia Shepley: Boston Sculptors Gallery", Sculpture Magazine, 2011

The mesmerizing movements of Sky Habitation created an environment of ethereal beauty and visual excitement. The continual play and visual rhythms that join these disparate elements make the work compelling -- real shape against its shadowy echo, object against its reflected shadow, form against void, solid against translucent, tangible against intangible. Read More

Alicia Faxon, "Julia Shepley Out/In: New Works", Art New England, 2010

She has added a new dimension to her work, a monumental installation suspended from the ceiling, slowly revolving and interacting with viewers. The title, Sky Habitation, suggests some of the component parts. Her work is challenging, exploring space and shadow in innovative and imaginative ways. In her latest exhibition, she has produced some of her finest and most exciting works. Read More

Cate McQuaid, "Finding the right word", The Boston Globe, 2010

Julia Shepley's drawings in thread, shadow, and ink sandwiched between arcs of glass and mylar pull you in with delicate intimacy.

Cate McQuaid, "Drawn to go beyond pen and paper", The Boston Globe, 2009

Look at Shepley's whispery Nightshade Series, in which she layers translucent vellum in lightboxes. Shepley interleaves shadow and light, cutting and painting over the vellum and making staticky sutures across the surface. Yet both artists [Shepley and Samour] deploy that translucence; their work seems to capture light and hold it, fluttering, like a moth. Shepley's nearby tumultuous Mining the Storm series, which sports etched glass over gouged, painted plaster. The plaster makes a topography, the glass the weather system through which we view it. Like Weisberg, Shepley works in black and white; her gestures are lush and expressionistic beside Weisberg's staccato splatter.

Cate McQuaid, "Glass ripples", The Boston Globe , 2007

Julia Shepley's series Fluid States and Lost and Found feature layers of glass, etched and stitched, sometimes against a plaster ground; they metaphorically depict the brain. With rippling glass, textured shadows, and varying translucence, these pieces are enigmatic and captivating.

Alicia Faxon, Art New England, 2006

Julia Shepley is a poet of motion. Her sculptures, though stationary, imply thrust through space and atmosphere. Using wood, cast glass, laminate, bronze, fabric, and stitching she creates a world of abstract configurations backed by the shadows of their presence…Shepley's sculpture uses positive and negative space in contrapuntal rhythms - mass verses void, shapes against shadows - as part of the whole configuration. It is this play between substance and its echo that makes her work compelling, original and daring: Her use of glass refracts light and creates a play of the elements; the silhouettes of her forms converse with their reflections in the shadows and suggest infinite possibilities. This is a relief sculpture in a new mode and vision.

Cate McQuaid, "Magic in the mundane", The Boston Globe, 2006

Flying like the wind or stolidly rooted, the work by two artists in solo shows at Boston Sculptors Gallery, make an evocative complimentary pair…In her “Fasten” series,[Julia Shepley] stitches buttons into plastic sheets, leaving stray threads, then draws over the sheets with ink lines that look like flying horse tails. It all casts shadows through the plastic, exaggerating the rush. A series of wall sculptures blows the elements of “Fasten” up to a larger scale. In upstart, the buttons are glass disks, threaded to bronze hooks in the wall and attached to fluid lines of black vinyl, which ripple over the wall in feathery arcs. These wittily trade in themes of tethering and escape.

Marty Carlock, Sculpture Magazine, 2003

Shepley's modus operandi acknowledges few bounds. Drawing and sculpture are interchangeable for her; she may begin with a drawing and then extend both her linear and sculptural gesture by means of wire or thread, moving far beyond the edges of her paper…Many of her structures, such as Window and Rainspan, are balanced in space with carefully engineered threads; they possess a tension, a fragility of balance that implies change, transition waiting to happen.

Lisa Falco, Arts Media, 2003

Shepley engages the complexities and possibilities of…sights and sounds [along tidal rivers and other large bodies of water] in her mixed-media sculpture, artfully using reflective light and shadow as additional drawing and sculpting tools. Shepley also manages to connect these ethereal pieces to the body and the experience of being human. On multiple levels, Shepley produces art that exercises the viewer's senses, encouraging their fuller use and celebrating their sometimes mystical abilities.

Christine Temin, The Boston Globe, 2002

The largest installation is a series of circles that look like the life rings thrown to someone who's drowning. Shepley's rings come in both two and three dimensions, some delicately drawn onto the wall, others padded, protruding white forms, all of them connected with loops of turquoise cord as active as a rolling sea. Inside the 3-D rings are amorphous cast glass forms, bubbly and effervescent, in a watery palette. They're glistening and alluring, but the message is that beauty can be treacherous.…the objects in this show are pale and clean as if purified by water…these are lovely, lyrical and sometimes eccentric pieces…The arches [in the Daydream- Imprint Series] are stitched in places that are not seams, creating scarification patterns and a sense of activity reiterated in the glass that fills them. Flowing and bulging, the glass is to be looked at as much as through. But don't miss what's behind it: shadows as interesting as the tangible forms that cast them.

Joanne Silver, The Boston Herald, 2002

Rather than isolating one environment from another and one medium from another, Shepley draws inspiration from overlapping worlds. Land and sea merge in works made from undulating cast blue glass and delicate threads- some as wispy as hairs, others stiffly knotted like surgical sutures. Rippling light dances off surfaces that look etched by the ebb and flow of the ocean. Despite fixed positions on — or jutting out from — the wall, these works have a sense of motion. Slender black strings pull the ingredients of 'Window' into taut harmony…two glass circles are held slightly apart as if in the process of opening…shadowy ghosts of the strings mingle with swooping gestures drawn in black crayon. Foreground and background, solid form and ephemeral shadow shift with the viewer's movement and the changing light of the gallery.

Alicia Faxon, Art New England, 2001

Shepley is an artist of the poetic and insubstantial. We seem to be looking at embodiments of memory, traces in time, and delicate dreams, opening up countless possibilities of allusion, illusion, and fantasy.

Christine Temin, "Shapiro's chameleons", The Boston Globe, 2000

Julia Shepley's new works are as much drawing as sculpture. Their elusive effects- shadows, transparency, illusion- are made possible by odd materials…She draws beautifully. The 3-D pieces seem more fragile, their references richer.

Marty Carlock, Art New England, 1999

Shepley's disparate imagery, dramatic, playful, and graphic, is drawn together by keeping it simple, focusing as clearly on the shadows cast as on the objects themselves.

Cate McQuaid, "An artist who conflates flesh and spirit", The Boston Globe, 1998

Julia Shepley conflates flesh and spirit in her show of sculptures and prints at the George Sherman Union Gallery at Boston University. She abstracts flesh everywhere here, in swollen sacs and winding arteries, but always weaves it with something more ethereal in a satisfying braid.

Christine Temin, "At Newton's Chapel Gallery, hands and hearts are soaring", The Boston Globe, 1997

Julia Shepley can't resist the impulse to lift her work off the floor, to make use of the gallery's soaring height and vaulted ceiling. The work in her current show, "Figments," was also inspired by Robert Davidson, the Seattle-based aerial dancer who sails through space on low trapezes, in choreography that has nothing to do with the circus and everything to do with equating flying bodies with spiritual flight.

Christine Temin, "Art that's ready to come to life", The Boston Globe, 1995

Julia Shepley calls her new show of sculpture "Pulse," and the works ensconced in the Chapel Gallery do indeed convey the sense of a heartbeat, of something alive. They look as if they might even be warm to the touch. Trapeze No. 2, possibly the best work in the show, is a long stretch of dark, knotted, frizzing human hair with a couple of pale butterfly forms trapped within it, held aloft by clusters of hearts and wings at either end. The piece reads as a soul's struggle against gravity.