Julie K. Gray is an interdisciplinary artist based in Biddeford, Maine. Her primary mediums include sculpture, photography, and needlepoint. She obtained her BFA in Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2005 and completed her MFA in Studio Art at the Maine College of Art in 2012. Gray has exhibited extensively in New England, as well as in various locations across the United States and Canada.
Following a near-death incident in 2009, Gray’s artistic exploration revolves around themes of mortality, mourning culture, and the psychological space of “limbo.” To delve into these abstract concepts, she employs symbolic methods, humor, cultural cues, and diverse media such as papier-mâché, beading, photography, needlepoint, and childhood craft. Through this approach, Gray aims to make her work more accessible to the audience, fostering a dialogue on mortality and spiritual inquiry – topics often considered “taboo” in contemporary North American society.
Believing in the importance of openly discussing death, Gray acknowledges the diverse perspectives on the afterlife, whether it involves returning to the dust, embarking on a journey to Heaven or Hell, or following a trajectory beyond the physical body. Her intention is to destigmatize the subject of death.
As a photographer, Spiritualist medium, and history enthusiast, Gray finds intrigue in the simultaneous occurrences of certain phenomena. The Victorian era, known for the popular practice of wallpapering homes, unwittingly incorporated toxic hues containing arsenic. Gray has painted sixty works in a series utilizing antique photographic carte-de-visites and cabinet cards. Additionally, she has embarked on creating an Oracle Deck that connects the toxic decor of that era, resulting hallucinations, paranormal phenomena, and the concurrent rise of Modern Spiritualism, including practices like seances, mediumship, and spirit communication. Through her art, Gray intertwines historical elements to prompt contemplation on the interconnectedness of toxic material culture, spiritual practices, and the ethereal.