"These installations seek to excavate a bygone history embodied in these abandoned buildings, objects, lives, jobs and stories. I interpret them into a new story of remembrance, transition into a new phase and a healing of the past." - Julie Schenkelberg
From The Noodler
Oft-forgotten spaces like abandoned factories, malls, homes, and entire neighborhoods, are eerie and sad reminders of a once-promising existence suspended in time. These forsaken spaces and their contents conjure unsettling notions and feelings. Yet multi-award-winning artist Julie Schenkelberg gives new purpose to deserted remnants - uncovering their potential for transformation and evolution through the large-scale installations she creates within vacant buildings, museums, and gallery spaces using discarded domestic and industrial materials she salvages.
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, her practice is nomadic, focused in the flyover cities of the American Rust Belt - requiring her to relocate from Ohio to places like Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York and, sometimes, internationally for months at a time. Deeply influenced by her eighteen years of professional experience as a scenic painter for theater, Julie incorporates lighting, scale, and open space to create sacred and healing spaces that transport audiences to new realms.
The beauty of the forgotten, the in-between, the liminal, and the transitional. These are the spaces I feel I live as a being, an artist, and as a woman. Things are always transforming and changing in blossoming ways, even mercurial, like flowing water into available spaces. To embrace and reinvent the unknown based on a legacy of things past is the choice to discover and unveil the future.
My temporal work alludes to what was, and what can be. My installations are about finding beauty and meaning in post-industrial mess.
Using discarded industrial materials and once revered domestic objects, I create places of sacred arrival, unearthing stories and regenerating lost beauty.
I draw from a vast personal language in my practice, including folded fabric, cast heirloom objects specific to my family, and scrap metal, reflecting my rust belt heritage, but I often research and incorporate objects specific to a project’s location.
These installations seek to excavate a bygone history embodied in these abandoned buildings, objects, lives, jobs and stories.
I interpret them into a new story of remembrance, transition into a new phase and a healing of the past into the uncertain future. The sacredness of these industrial ruins and domestic objects and spaces inspire my story and hold the foundation for my work.
My work is informed by research about ruins of older civilizations and my interest in medieval early religions, alchemical symbology, mystic sacred geometry in drawings and in architecture.
I pay attention to how sacred space and symbols are important across cultures and notice the common similarities to my explorations in the midwest.
This amalgamation of symbology, sacred and deep roots inform my fringed life.
I bring these liminal bits into view to create beauty and calming for us as the viewer.
The unknown is all there is, and creating a language out of it that is malleable, is the truth that exists.
It is that flash of something I see and seek out of the corner of my eye, ever chasing, ever liminal and ever beautiful.
1. TRANSMIGRATION, 2016. The house was built in 1910. The project is 25'x20'x25' and the materials are dismantled, wood, plaster, and lighting. All the plaster was removed from the walls and the exterior walls were removed, allowing light to stream in and out of the structure. The former owners of the house found the experience of reinventing and opening the condemned building up a healing experience for the history of the space and for their own relationship with it. Photo by Joseph Levak.
2. SWAN SONG, 2015. The site-specific installation is 17’x6’x15’ and made with materials salvaged from crumbling buildings in Michigan —reclaimed lath, wood, marble, iron, paper, vintage furniture, dish-ware, figurines, natural debris, crushed reclaimed metal, light fixtures, vintage wedding dresses, bathtub, wallpaper, plaster, paint. Solo show at Asya Geisberg Gallery. Photo by Etienne Fossard.
3. COLOR OF TEMPERANCE: EMBODIED ENERGIES - Room One, 2015/2016. The piece is 15’x10’x9’ and includes plaster, wood lathe, dishware, scrap metal, vintage wood furniture, wallpaper, paint, and paper. Exhibited in an 1890’s building, this site-specific piece was created from salvaged buildings in the area, interpreting the lost history of the building itself for The Mattress Factory Museum of Contemporary Art in Pittsburgh, PA. Photo credit: The Mattress Factory Museum.
4. CURRANT, 2022. The 17'x7'x25' installation materials are found wood from homes, a sailboat sail from the Great Lakes, scrap metal and gravel from the area, crushed glass, vintage windows and doors, and vintage furniture. Photo by Jacob Koestler
5. HOMAGE TO FINDING, 2017. This 18’x7’x15’ installation is composed of a taxidermied fawn, found objects, burnt house wood, Hydrocal plaster casts of artist‘s family personal items (including jewelry, dishware, silverware, paraffin wax castings, books), marble from demolished buildings, cast and real 1917 vintage ceiling tiles, wood lath from a demolished convent, cotton fabric, gold, and silver leaf, mirrors, waxed paper, shredded and grated tires, wax cast windows, figurines and cups, chair. Materials were salvaged from local abandoned buildings in Detroit at the Red Bull Arts in Eastern Market. Photo by Shaun Roberts.
6. IMPART, 2017. Built with natural materials found in the region: stone, sand, sea water, soil and branches that were covered in concrete and filtered lighting. It was a collective effort to find material to create the installation, working with the city arborist and local artists to bring in natural material that was symbolic of the area and sentimental to individuals. The 20’x15’x7’ installation was reminiscent of Viking funeral mounds and boats. I often investigate the passage to the next world through my work. Installation at Prosjektrom Normanns Gallery, Stravanger, Norway. Photo by Jan Inga Haga.
7. LEMURIAN SHIFT, 2015. Constructed with materials accumulated over many years from home demolition and scrap yards. Vintage molding, porch ceilings, chairs, lathe, barrel parts, vintage boat sails, folded painted fabric bundles, carrara marble, plaster cast vintage punch cups, scrap metal from cars, industrial waste, and painted bed springs. This 12'x9'x18' installation was exhibited at UNTITLED Miami 2015 as a special project through the curatorial group SiTE:LAB. It was an expression of domestic materials intertwined with discarded industrial materials to create a new altar of rebirth. Photo by Jacob Hansom.
8. COLOR OF TEMPERANCE: EMBODIED ENERGIES - Room Two, 2015/2016. The work was exhibited in an 1890’s building. Plaster, wood lathe, dishware, scrap metal, vintage wood furniture, wallpaper, paint, and paper. This 15’x10’x9' work was a site-specific piece created from salvaged buildings from the area, interpreting the lost history of the building itself for The Mattress Factory Museum of Contemporary Art in Pittsburgh, PA. Photo credit: The Mattress Factory Museum.
9. STREETCAR, 2010. This 17’x5’x9' installation includes plaster, wood lathe, dishware, scrap metal, vintage wood furniture, wallpaper, paint, and paper. Photo by Etienne Fossard.
10. HOME FOUND, 2018. This 36"x6”x60” piece includes wax casts of artist‘s family personal items; jewelry, dishware, silverware, books, Virgin Mary statues, and mirrors. The black is burnt wood gathered from burned homes in Detroit. It is tomb-like and filled with casts of the artist’s family heirlooms and found objects from decaying buildings in Detroit, close to the artist’s hometown of Cleveland. Exploring the contrast between industry and the rise and fall of the middle class. This work was exhibited at the Museum of Art and Design, NYC for the Burke Prize 2019. Photo by Etienne Fossard.
11. SYMPTOMATIC CONSTANT, 2015. The environment is a former 1920’s hotel lobby in Michigan that was sealed for 40 years. It is filled with 25’x9’x20' of items locally sourced from the area and local scrap yard materials. The piece touches on the twisting turmoil of objects and domestic places in upheaval. The installation is inspired by the crumbling and abandoned places throughout the Midwest and honors the entombment of the past. Prize winner of the installation award for Art Prize 2014. Photo by Jacob Hanson.