Janet Engel-Julian " Graduate Student Exhibition"

The Graduate Thesis Show of Janet Engel-Julian

Opening reception on Dec. 2 from 5:30 - 8:30 p.m

To artist Janet Engel-Julian, a shoe print is more than just the product of a tread forming on the ground. The shoe prints, or in this case, ceramic tiles are the clues to life’s journey and form the basis for her master’s degree thesis art show, which opens Wednesday, November 30 with an opening reception on Friday, Dec. 2, at Governors State University Visual Arts Gallery.

Engel-Julian, a Lake Bluff Middle School art teacher, says her family inspires her artwork, especially her mother’s family, who emigrated to the United States from a small town outside of Palermo, Sicily in 1962.

“I think about the hardships and life-changing experiences my mother went through that make her the person she is today,” she says. “My family’s traditions and experiences and their influence on my life are what I use to inspire and influence me as I create my work.”

The shoe-print ceramic tiles, arranged in an 8’ x 12’ installation, dominate the gallery walls and provide a sense of motion while capturing and cataloging the many steps of this familial and cultural journey. These tiles are joined by other installations such as porcelain, hand-rolled cavatelli, slip cast tomatoes, zucchini and other vegetables, as well as strings of slip cast garlic bulbs that delicately hang from the gallery ceiling.

For the opening night reception on Dec. 2, Engel-Julian will create a culinary performance piece for those in attendance to share the camaraderie of a meal, while creating their own memories, a theme central to the exhibit.

“Even though people may be enjoying the same meal, they’re going to remember certain parts of it differently based on their personalities and past encounters,” she says. “While you can capture time in photos, video, or ceramic tiles, it is always passing and changing, and only really documented in your own memories. Once the memories fade, the past is lost.”