“My primary goals in art, research and teaching are to pose questions, evoke contemplation, and inspire response.”

Julie Comnick is a recipient of a 2017 Artist Research & Development Grant.

Artist Research and Development Grants are designed to support the advancement of artistic research, aid in the development of artistic work and recognize the contributions individual artists make to Arizona’s communities. For more information about the Artist Research & Development Grant, click here.

Arrangement for a Silent Orchestra is a painting and video project which explores the dissolution of culture in contemporary society through the symbolic ruin of a personal and cultural icon, the violin. Using the instrument as a metaphor, Comnick raises questions about the relationship between advancing technology and diminishing cultural heritage, inviting the audience to consider what makes the instrument precious in their own experience, and the impact of its loss.

Begun in 2015, the first phase of the project involved the nationwide solicitation of a hundred violins, beyond repair, which were piled in a mountaintop clearing and burned at nightfall. The documentation was the source material for ten large-scale paintings and video depicting the pile of violins in various phases of ruin. In the second phase, in support of which the Artist Research and Development Grant was awarded, symphony instruments are piled in a remote landscape and an ensuing snowstorm gradually covers the instruments with snow. This event will be depicted in a new series of paintings and video.

Above: Prelude, by Julie Comnick, 2012. Oil on canvas, 80″ x 95″

Julie Comnick’s paintings and drawings engage the pictorial languages of representation and narration to pose questions about social circumstances and practices. Comnick lives in Flagstaff, Arizona, where she serves on the School of Art faculty at Northern Arizona University. With interdisciplinary interests across the arts, humanities and sciences, her relevant professional experience includes the positions of Exhibits Preparator at both the Field Museum of Natural History and Chicago Historical Society, and Conservator at the Chicago Conservation Center. She received an MFA in Painting from Montana State University and a BA from The Evergreen State College.

Comnick’s solo projects have been exhibited at contemporary venues nationally: Hardesty Arts Center, Tulsa, OK; Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum, Mesa AZ; Firehouse Arts Center, Longmont, CO; Space Gallery, Denver, CO; The Gallery at Flashpoint, Washington, DC; Zg Gallery, Chicago IL; and Creative Arts Workshop, New Haven, CT. Group exhibitions internationally include Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, AZ; University of Arizona Museum of Art; Coconino Center for the Arts, Flagstaff, AZ; University of North Carolina, Asheville, NC; Marc Chagall Museum, Vitebsk, Belarus; A Shenere Velt Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Camberwell School of Art, London, England; The London Institute, London, England; and ARC Gallery, Chicago, IL. Her solo projects have been reviewed in prominent publications including the Washington Post, Chicago Sun Times, and Dialogue Magazine.

Photo by Mark Neumann