Ebb and Flow: How Juliet Holland’s observations brought her home
Building literally from dust and earth, sand and clay... my work focuses on the process of transformation - from disintegration and decay to a new form of beauty. The surface reveals an archaeological history of the treatment it has received: rain and earthquake, ancient graffiti, hints of fragmented calligraphy like scars on the skin and soul. Erosion and layering evoking passing time and the continuum of change in nature's infinite progression.
An aspect that has always intrigued me is the mystery that lies within and behind---piercing of layers leading to unexpected discoveries beneath. This combination of deterioration and inflicted markings, construction and destruction, becomes a means of stating both the quality and unity of all things. No endings --- the process of becoming.
Juliet Holland, New York City
Just as the waves carve the seemingly unchanging shore; mixed media artist Juliet Holland was formed by the tides. As a child, tidepools provided an illusion of stillness, a mirrored surface that allowed her to witness the slow, cyclical rhythm of nature. Holland was born on June 6, 1937, under the weight of upper-class social expectations in Wellesley Hills and Duxbury, Massachusetts.
It can be presumed that Holland’s early fascination with endings, and consequently, new beginnings, was only strengthened when she lost her mother at 19. After a sustained period of illness, the model she had been taught to aspire to was physically absent. In the spinning world of grief, Holland sought stability. And so, she followed the social blueprint, as she had been taught to do.
In the decade after the death of her mother, Holland met and married a Harvard man, a Marine, who became a banker. She played the role of suburban wife, mother, and social hostess for years until she could no longer. Holland emerged from depression and channeled her stifled creativity into textile design, leathercraft, interior design, ceramics, and painting. Holland attended New York University, Harvard University, and the New England School of Art in Boston.
Holland’s artistic practice married stillness and chaos, loss and growth, from the time she began her work in the 1960s. As social cultures shifted at an unprecedented pace, Holland put form to clay and paint to canvas. As a child, the microcosmic world of marine life and the shifting coastline alluded to constant change, rebirth, and possibility. Still a young woman, she sought to harness this regenerative capacity for herself alone.
Gouge, sand, build, repair; ponder. Scrape, layer, dust; content.
Holland’s adult life was spent between two chosen homes; the physical expression of her dual Gemini perspectives. For 35+ years, Holland lived between a slumlord-owned, later rent-controlled, apartment at Bleeker and Broadway in New York City and a tiny fisherman’s cottage in Saugatuck Shores, Connecticut. NYC provided the grit, the energy; in the city, Holland was active with countless shows, commissions, and avant-garde theatre showings. The regenerative pulse of Connecticut waters brought her back to her body. Each environment harnessed decay and rebirth. Her very deliberate interactions with such processes drove her creative work.
Her technique incorporated rich layers of sand, paints, clay, powders, metallics, and natural elements, which were built up, then scratched and scraped back down, creating layers — evoking time.
Holland’s son, Mark Nickerson, remarked that artmaking was a central facet of her personality. “She presented herself very much as an artist – eccentric, ebullient, with as much color and texture on her body as she put into her work.” Artmaking for Holland was intuitive; those who watched her work described her as “singularly focused”. Her process was not a race to the finish line; rather, she waited for each piece to tell her when it was complete.
“She knew when pieces were not yet resolved and had no problem in setting them aside to return to later.”
While Holland’s work is visceral and complex, it is also deeply grounded. Holland, in her art and her broader life, was a planner. Nickerson noted that “Year after year she would use weekly calendar planners for everything. I think that she needed and valued this level of organization to provide the balance with her hours and hours of artistic creation.” Holland managed the business aspects of her art career with deliberate attention in order to support her practice.
Holland was an accomplished and widely exhibited artist, most notably in Tokyo, NYC, Connecticut, and Provincetown, MA. Holland was in well over one hundred one-person and group exhibitions between 1981 and 2018. Her work is in museums such as the San Antonio Museum of Modern Art, Reading Public Museum, as well as a number of corporate and private collections. Additionally, her work has been published within articles in the New York Times, Artspeak, and New York Arts Journal.
Holland was a co-founder of Art Bridge, a program that established an artist exchange between Japan and the United States for twelve years. Holland was formally recognized by the Mayor of Sakai City as the first non-Asian artist in the Sakai City Municipal Art Collection. In addition to being an artist and businesswoman, she worked as a curator of several exhibitions and was on the board of directors of Lamia Ink!, a non-profit organization dedicated to the arts.
Juliet Holland was fiercely independent and driven, despite the costs and stress that came with it. Her son remembers her most for her perseverance and determination. “Other people might have cut their losses and moved on, but she knew that challenges were part of her process. Her life was complicated but very fulfilling for her.”
New York University; New York, New York
Harvard University; Cambridge, Massachusetts
New England School of Art; Boston, Massachusetts
Reading Public Museum, Reading, Pennsylvania
The University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City, Iowa
Housatonic Museum of Art, Bridgeport, Connecticut
San Antonio Museum of Modern Art, San Antonio, Texas
Stamford Museum, Stamford, Connecticut
Sakai City Municipal Art Collection, Sakai City, Japan Katrina
Carye Hartje Collection, Frankfurt, Germany
Pepsico Corporation, Purchase, New York
I.B.M. Corporation, Atlanta, Georgia
Citibank, New York, New York
AT&T, Chicago, Illinois
2012 “Confluences”, Osaka Gallery, Osaka, Japan w/ S.K. Misaki, (Catalogue)
2007 Hong Kong Council of the Arts, China
2005 Hammond Museum, North Salem, New York
2004 Gallery Marya, Osaka, Japan
2004 Gallery LL, Kobe, Japan
2002 CJG Projects International Inc., New York, New York, “Sensaku”
2001 Sakai City Municipal Museum, Sakai City, Japan “Art Bridge 3”
2000 Housatonic Museum of Art, Bridgeport, Connecticut, “Building on a Legacy”
1997 Cortland Jessup Gallery, New York, New York, “…Matter Of Abstraction”
1997 Gallery Marya, Osaka, Japan, “Prayers for the Earth,” (“Daichi Eno Inori”)
1995 Reece Galleries, New York, New York
1989 La Mama La Galleria, New York, New York, AIDS Benefit
1985 Mona Berman Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut
1984 Elaine Starkman Gallery, New York, New York
1981 Downey Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California, “Westwood Clay National,” (catalogue)
1980 Wildcliff Museum, New Rochelle, New York, “Paperworks ’80”
Holland, Juliet. “Statement” from juliethollandart.com
“Resume” from juliethollandart.com
Interview with Mark Nickerson, son of Juliet Holland. December 29, 2021.
Peoria Journal Star, “Juliet Holland Obituary”. November 28, 2017. Legacy.com