June Julian: Insomnia in Venice

With images of Plague Doctor Masks and Acqua Alta, the “Insomnia in Venice” paintings by June Julian refer both to the pandemic and to climate change. Julian’s art characteristically “addresses human and environmental themes of imbalance and regained equilibrium,” and through this series, continues to explore that trajectory.


Insomnia in Venice:

Venice, La Serenissima, in my insomnia, I hear you call me again. Why don’t you let me sleep?

Can traditional easel painting effectively communicate contemporary global issues? The Insomnia in Venice paintings point to climate change and Acqua Alta in damp, lamp lit calli and canals. Since living in Venice many years ago, I am still haunted by the extraordinary spell of its deep past and its present threatened status as a cautionary tale for coastal cities everywhere.


The Plague Doctor:

The Plague Doctor mask is an appropriate symbol for our contemporary times. Historically, doctors wore the Medico della Peste mask while making their rounds in Venice during the Black Plague. Its characteristic long beak was stuffed with aromatic and medicinal herbs that were thought to be protective. By employing the iconic mask and the atmospheric effects of curative myrtle smoke, the Plague Doctor paintings refer to the miasma of obfuscation surrounding the Covid 19 virus.

Feature image: Venice 5 (detail)

Nhi Vo
Nhi Vo
Elaine M. Erne, co-founder and co-director of Star Wheel Printers, received her BFA from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA and her MFA from Tyler School of Art, Temple University in Philadelphia, PA.  Erne’s drawings and prints have been featured in numerous invitational and juried national exhibitions. The Lives and Traumas of Stuffed Animals is a series of comically disturbing depictions of Mr. Bunny and his friends under siege. The series is made up of very large graphite pencil drawings, woodblocks, etchings, and lithographs. Although there is a playful side, the underlining theme is fear, cruelty, and survival.  In recurring distressful situations people often become like dolls, presenting a steady happy personae no matter what is happening.  Though the circumstances represented in the work are not real, no stuffed animals were hurt in the making of the work, they capture the aura that surrounds a person who has no control but will not give in.
Elaine M. Erne
Elaine M. Erne

Elaine M. Erne, co-founder and co-director of Star Wheel Printers, received her BFA from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh,…

Elaine M. Erne, co-founder and co-director of Star Wheel Printers, received her BFA from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA and her MFA from Tyler School of Art, Temple University in Philadelphia,…

Elaine M. Erne, co-founder and co-director of Star Wheel Printers, received her BFA from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA and her MFA from Tyler School of Art, Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. Erne’s drawings…

Ruth Miller's contemporary realistic work pulls inspiration from the urban world around her. Drawing on the realism of nature and social
Ruth Miller
Ruth Miller

Ruth Miller's contemporary realistic work pulls inspiration from the urban world around her. Drawing on the realism of nature…

Ruth Miller's contemporary realistic work pulls inspiration from the urban world around her. Drawing on the realism of nature and social …

Ruth Miller's contemporary realistic work pulls inspiration from the urban world around her. Drawing on the realism of nature and social …

Kitty Caparella
Kitty Caparella
Emily Squires Levine, a Philadelphia based artist, creates colorful decorative vessels and Judaica from polymer, a synthetic modeling compound.
Emily Squires Levine
Emily Squires Levine

Emily Squires Levine, a Philadelphia based artist, creates colorful decorative vessels and Judaica from polymer, a synthetic…

Emily Squires Levine, a Philadelphia based artist, creates colorful decorative vessels and Judaica from polymer, a synthetic modeling compound.…

Emily Squires Levine, a Philadelphia based artist, creates colorful decorative vessels and Judaica from polymer, a synthetic modeling compound.…

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