Metalsmith Julia Barello’s ‘Strange Gardens’ Installation to Take Root at TCVA on Feb. 5

Published Friday, January 8, 2016 at 1:05 pm

With her breathtaking new installation “Strange Gardens” — a multi-layered environment of vivid, translucent color and swirling forms — the jeweler and metalsmith Julia Barello will transform the walls of the Turchin Center’s Mayer Gallery into a symbolic garden, brightly blooming in the dark chill of winter. It will be the largest, most ambitious works by Barello to date.

The show opens Feb. 5 with the traditional Turchin Center Exhibition Celebration (one of Boone’s most popular social events), and continues through Aug. 6.

“Strange Gardens”

Strange Gardens

Julia Barello, “Strange Gardens”

“Barello’s large-scale installations—metaphors for the human body as well as the interconnections between the body and the natural world from which it emerges—are meticulously sculpted from recycled medical images originally meant to convey critical information about the interior of the human body to doctors,” says Turchin Center Curator Mary Anne Redding.  “She removes all identifying markers from exposed MRI and X-Ray film, which she then dyes and hand-cuts into intricate organic shapes—leaves, petals, birds and flowers are layered across the walls of the gallery to create scenes from nature. Barello transforms images of pain and human disease into life-affirming artworks.”

Reviewing Barello’s “delicate flora” (which are individually attached to the wall with steel pins measuring up to 10 inches in length), the Houston Press wrote that “they’re so textured and alive. . . . [They] have a sense of wild about them that’s still nonetheless contained.”

Barello discussed how she began using the medical film of unknown patients in a 2012 interview with the American Craft Council’s American Craft Magazine, which described her work “ghostly and nuanced.”

“For me it became a stand-in for the individual,” she told the magazine. “The individuals have no name. It’s more the idea of the vast individuality of humankind: We function as groups, but we all also have our individual worlds.”

Barello’s new show will be marked by an Exhibition Celebration on Feb. 5 from 6-10 p.m., with live music, food, a cash bar, and an opportunity to meet the artist; this event is free and open to the public.

Strange Gardens: Julia Barello  

February 5 – August 6, 2016

Exhibition Celebration: Friday, February 5, 6-10pm

ARTIST BIOJulia Barello is Professor of Art at New Mexico State University, Las Cruces. She has exhibited widely across the United States, at such institutions as the Rubin Center for the Visual Arts, Museum of Art and Design, Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft and Museum of Contemporary Craft. Her work can be found in multiple permanent collections, including those of the Museum of Art and Design, Mesa Arts Center, Isle Royale Natural History Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Craft. For more information about the artist and her work,

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PHOTO INFORMATION: images are detail and in-progress shots from Barello’s wall installation “Hydrangea / Cloud,” which is being installed in the Turchin Center’s Mayer Gallery.

About the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts

The Turchin Center for the Visual Arts presents exhibition, education and collection programs that support Appalachian State University’s role as a key regional educational, cultural and economic resource.

The Turchin Center is located at 423 West King St., in Boone. Hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Tues.-Thurs. and Saturday, and Noon-8 p.m., Friday. The Center is closed Sunday and Monday, and observes all university holidays. There is no admission charge, although donations are accepted.

For additional details about the Turchin Center, becoming a donor, the upcoming exhibitions, to be added to the mailing list or to schedule a tour, please call (828) 262-3017 or visit

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