Grant Allows VSU Artist, Professor To Challenge Herself

May 21, 2012

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Grant Allows VSU Artist, Professor To Challenge Herself


VALDOSTA -- At the beginning of the year, Julie Bowland challenged herself to paint a body of work in a new style and aesthetic approach. She also challenged herself to share that work with the nation.

On Saturday, May 26, Bowland’s solo exhibit of 25 contemporary, expressionistic oil paintings opens at the Buchanan Museum of Fine Art in Michigan. This opportunity was made possible by a $5,000 grant received through the Valdosta State University Faculty Research Seed Grant Program.

Bowland, who serves as director of the Valdosta State University Fine Arts Gallery and recently received a promotion to professor in the Department of Art, said that she wanted to challenge herself “to create a substantial and significant body of work that reflects a more dynamic and contemporary style aesthetic.” She also wanted “to expand the audience and appreciation of her work to an audience outside of the Southeastern United States, specifically to a Midwestern museum in close proximity to the urban area of Chicago, as well as other respected national art venues.”

During the project, which began in January when she ordered art supplies, Bowland traveled to Amicalola Falls and Seaside, Fla. Some of the works to be featured were created directly on location. Others were painted in the studio from memory, sketches, and photographs.

When painting on the scene, Bowland traveled with her truck, which serves as her portable studio, and all her supplies -- easel, paints, brushes, and large, stretched canvases. As an outdoor artist, she said that she responds “directly and vigorously with paint to the sights, sounds, and energy” of a place.

Bowland noted that it was her goal to create paintings in and of places unfamiliar to her. She believed that doing so would advance the level and quality of her painting.

“As an established artist, my painting is my creative research,” she stated in the grant proposal. “I am highly committed and devoted to growing and developing as an artist and to attaining validation from the professional art world, including acceptance into art museums. Unlike a commercial gallery, the mission of a museum is educational, not for profit. My work is and will be judged for its artistic merit and contribution to the current art world.”

Bowland said that the special project was the beginning of her transformation from regional landscape painter to national contemporary artist.

“My challenge as an artist is that my artwork has been regarding as too conservative -- read: realistic -- for the contemporary tastes of the contemporary post-modernist and too wild -- read: exaggerated color and form -- for the traditional aesthetic,” she shared. “My goal is to expand my creative research beyond what it has been, to maintain my integrity and be true to my own vision but receive the validation of my art through acceptance into nationally juried shows, respected galleries in urban areas, art museums, and art journal reviewers.”

According to the letter of invitation Bowland received from the Buchanan Museum of Fine Art, her artwork was accepted for exhibition “through a rigorous adjudication process for its high artistic merit and compatibility with the mission of the museum, which is to conserve, preserve, and exhibit important works of American and European art.”

Bowland earned an Associate of Arts in 1987 from Florida Community College at Jacksonville, a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1989 from Florida State University, and a Master of Fine Arts in 1991 from Arizona State University. She taught at Arizona State University, Florida State University, and Tallahassee Community College, and she served as director of the 621 Gallery in Tallahassee, Fla., and as director of the City of Tallahassee’s Art in Public Places Program.

Bowland joined the VSU Department of Art in 2002 as an assistant professor and the Fine Arts Gallery director. Her promotion to full professor is effective July 1.

For more information, please contact Julie Bowland at or (229) 333-5933.

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