Julia Gutman, a multimedia artist with an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, was living in New York City when, earlier this year, her close friend and studio partner died in a bicycle accident. “She was an absolute force of light, warmth encapsulated,” Gutman says. “It was an unbearably difficult time that forced me to rethink the way I was living and working.” For over a year prior, Gutman had been creating abstracted sculptures out of found textiles, exploring the materials’ socio-historical and feminist implications. But to honor her friend’s life, Gutman took her work in a more personal direction, beginning with a sprawling installation that, by design, required her to reach out and reconnect to friends near and far.
The finished installation, No one Told Me the Shadows Could Be so Bright, is an intimate scene of female friendship. Into every inch of the installation Gutman incorporated scraps of cloth and fabric collected from women in her own circle—including some that had belonged to her former studio partner. The act of connecting the cloth, stitch by stitch, was her way of meditating on her many bonds of friendship. “While the work is personal,” she says, “I am reflecting on intimacy in a broader sense, and I hope that it encourages viewers to reflect on their own relationships. I’m trying to take up space with vulnerability and softness, to see the strength in those qualities.”
Permission required for reprinting, reproducing, or other uses.