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Jamian Juliano-Villani’s Field Work

March 17, 2017

Where does an artist find relief from the New York art scene? Artist Jamian Juliano-Villani goes on a research trip into Manhattan, prowling two famed New York City institutions—the Strand Bookstore and Times Square—in search of the unpredictable found imagery that fuels her acclaimed paintings. Typically a creature of habit within her Bedford-Stuyvesant work space, Juliano-Villlani knows that putting in the studio time and trawling the internet can only be so inspiring. Seeking source material in the used book carrels at the Strand Book Store, Juliano-Villani says, “It can’t just be the most obvious reference; it should from somewhere specific. And it really only happens in books. On the Internet everything’s everywhere. It feels like it’s more mine, if I get it from a book.”

Later Juliano-Villani tours a more unlikely site of creative influence: the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! in Times Square, filled with a random assortment of exotica and hoaxes. Mirroring the slippery balance between good and bad taste in her own work, Juliano-Villani is fascinated by how the museum style presentation of these objects blurs the line between low and high culture. For Juliano-Villani, Times Square is a necessary antidote to the pressures of conforming to the art world in which her work resides. “I think anyone that is an artist is constantly feeling the guilt of [the pretensions of art-making] so that’s why I like these other weird elements of life, and especially life in New York,” she says.“No one cares, no one’s looking; you can act however you want, you can be whoever you want.”

More information and credits


New York Close Up Series Producer: Nick Ravich. Director: Nick Ravich. Editor: Michelle Chang. Cinematography: Tabha Joshi. Additional Camera: Tim Ciavara, Adam Golfer & Rafael Salazar. Sound: Tim Ciavara & Nick Ravich. Design & Graphics: Open & Urosh Perisic. Artwork Courtesy: Jamian Juliano-Villani. Music Courtesy: Simon Mathewson & The Impossebulls. Thanks: Liz Goldman, Whitney Hu, Wesley Miller, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Times Square, Strand Book Store. © Art21, Inc. 2017. All rights reserved.

New York Close Up is supported, in part, by The Lambent Foundation; public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; VIA Art Fund; Lévy Gorvy; and by individual contributors.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Jamian Juliano-Villani

Jamian Juliano-Villani was born in 1987 in Newark, New Jersey, and lives and works in New York. A painter working with sourced images, Juliano-Villani begins her process with visual references from books, magazines, and other print media she has collected since high school. She often projects images of characters from cartoons and comic books onto her canvases, allowing her to build a narrative of disparate layers. Driven by emotion and intuition, and armed with a rough aesthetic and bold palette, Juliano-Villani’s process often results in lengthy, demanding working sessions in her studio.

“Finding the ‘I’m-not-sure area’ is the thing that I find interesting.”

Jamian Juliano-Villani

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