For some artists choosing their “favorite” piece is the hardest part of being in the Choice Show. Artist, Julia M. Doughty managed to narrow it down, but choosing Messenger was a difficult one. “I find myself leaning toward Come Along on occasion,” laughs Doughty. “Can I have two images? Maybe it should be a dragonfly and a bee, as I speak about both?”
We decided to let her off the hook and encouraged her to talk about both.
“In my ten years as a scavenger and a found-object sculptor, I have always created sea creatures. So it came as a surprise to me this spring when I found myself attracted to and attracting dragonflies,” explains Doughty. “It began after a bit of travel while I was fulfilling the required two-week self-isolation period. I thought, what better place to self-isolate than in my studio?”
Doughty’s studio is organized chaos. It is by far one of her favorite places to be, so the isolation was not a difficult one.
“I love it in my studio. I know where everything is. There are separate areas for all of my finds,” says Doughty, “everything from stones to glass to rusty iron to copper wire and mesh. These piles have been added to for many years.”
As Doughty walked in on the first day of her isolation, she was inexplicably drawn to a rusty iron scavenged treasure that she has had for ages. Other than the day she found it, it had never spoken to her.
“I didn’t know what it had been used for but was later told it was called a ‘come-along’. As soon as I glanced at it, I knew it was going to be one of the pairs of wings for a dragonfly,” says Doughty. “It ended up being the first of six and was named Come Along. Before I knew it I was seeing dragonfly parts throughout my studio.”
There is a shift in Doughty’s work which welcomes in her history as a costume designer.
“Costume Design meets Sculpture,” laughs Doughty. “I have sewn for many years, and I am enjoying immensely, the calming wire stitching technique I am using particularly in the creation of wings.”
Being curious, Doughty began to research the symbolism behind dragonflies. It wasn’t a surprise to learn they symbolized our ability to overcome times of hardship. They often remind us to take time to reconnect with our own strength, courage, and happiness.
“They signify hope, change, and love. They can be powerful, graceful spiritual guides. They show us how to navigate life’s storms with confidence and ease,” Doughty says with a smile. “They only live for seven months, so they remind us to live life fully present. Living amid the Covid-19 pandemic, I think the dragonfly is the perfect spirit animal from which to draw comfort.
The subsequent dragonflies in this show are named: Damsel, Rise, Messenger, and Grit and Grace. In the end, Messenger was Doughty’s Artist Choice, but it was Come Along that started the whole thing.
“My new body of work comprises five dragonflies and one honeybee, entitled Awakening. I am moving towards bees and other insects,” says Doughty. “The bee symbolizes brightness and harmony in the community, as well as new life and awakening. They bring me joy. I understand how hard their plight has been as a result of our activity, hence climate change, on the earth. There is also symbolism as to how we rebuild our communities, jobs, and lives on the other side of the pandemic.”
Below are several links to learn more about Doughty and see all of her available works.