kit ju­lianto

Danc­ing on can­vas

Pasatiempo - - Young Artists - — Dou­glas Fair­field

“I’m not too wor­ried about re­jec­tion,” stated In­sti­tute of Amer­i­can In­dian Arts se­nior Kit Ju­lianto, a soft-spo­ken 25-year-old painter whose an­ces­try is Shoshone, Paiute, and Navajo. Hours be­fore he was sched­uled to leave New Mex­ico for home — the small town of Owyhee, Ne­vada — Ju­lianto sat down with Pasatiempo for an in­ter­view.

Ju­lianto is the first in his fam­ily to at­tend col­lege and is proud of his achieve­ment, as are his older brother, two sis­ters, and fa­ther. “Ev­ery­body in my fam­ily and my vil­lage looks up to me now, and it’s a good feel­ing. But it’s also a big re­spon­si­bil­ity. I’m kind of a role model now,” he said. Ju­lianto’s for­ma­tive years were spent as a mil­i­tary kid— he was born on the Moun­tain Home Air Force Base in south­west Idaho— but he didn’t travel that much and never ex­pe­ri­enced big-city life. “I lived most of my life on a reser­va­tion se­cluded from any city, and Santa Fe seems pretty big to me, al­though I’ve vis­ited Boise and Seat­tle to see the gallery scene.”

Ju­lianto ap­plied to IAIA on the ad­vice of a friend and with the sup­port of his fam­ily. He wanted to study drum­ming and cer­e­mo­nial singing, but he learned that IAIA does not yet of­fer cur­ric­ula in ei­ther dis­ci­pline, which led him into the vis­ual arts. “Back home I make drums, drum­sticks, and cer­e­mo­nial re­galia like shields, staffs, and spears. But when I got to the col­lege, they didn’t have any­thing like that, so I made the best of it,” he said. “When I was young, I did a lot of draw­ings of dancers, so the change in my fo­cus here wasn’t that dif­fi­cult.”

Ju­lianto ex­plored a va­ri­ety of medi­ums and dif­fer­ent forms of ex­pres­sion be­fore find­ing a style in which he was comfortable. “When I started tak­ing art classes, it seemed like ev­ery­body was paint­ing In­dian dancers. And I wanted to be dif­fer­ent, so I moved from do­ing fig­u­ra­tive stuff, to ab­stract, to nonob­jec­tive paint­ing. I re­ally got into Jack­son Pol­lock’s work and ap­pre­ci­ated his re­la­tion­ship to In­dian cul­ture. I also like Jimi Glea­son’s ab­stract work; his colors are so vi­brant. I’m also drawn to the work of Co­manche artist No­cona Burgess, who is also a flute player.” In cre­at­ing his own paint­ings, Ju­lianto uses both ad­di­tive and sub­trac­tive meth­ods and in­cor­po­rates acrylic and spray paint — which he builds up with mold­ing paste, giv­ing his work a highly tex­tured sur­face.

But as much as Ju­lianto has pro­gressed in the vis­ual arts, he has not al­tered his path. “Mu­sic is a num­berone pri­or­ity for me, and paint­ing is secondary. Mu­sic is a nat­u­ral ac­tiv­ity in my fam­ily.” Ju­lianto has found a way to com­bine paint­ing with his love of Na­tive mu­sic. “I lis­ten to pow­wow mu­sic while I paint, along with the blues, which I never re­ally lis­tened to be­fore I got to col­lege. Now I love the blues. And it’s all con­ducive to the creative process. My ab­stract work has a lot to do with mu­sic as in­spi­ra­tion.

“When I lis­ten to pow­wow and cer­e­mo­nial mu­sic, I start danc­ing, which is re­flected in my work. The big ges­tures in my paint­ings are from us­ing my whole body. And in the same way that there are many lay­ers to cer­e­mo­nial mu­sic, there are mul­ti­ple lay­ers to my paint­ing.

“My phi­los­o­phy is to make art for your­self first and for other peo­ple in a more gen­eral way,” Ju­lianto said. Yet he has not yet tried to get into a gallery. “I’m not quite ready to do that, to com­mit my­self to the gallery scene. I want to go home and get re­con­nected to my fam­ily and my cul­ture. But I’ll miss the peo­ple here, my new friends, the stu­dio space, and the cri­tiques. But I’ll be back.”

In­deed, Ju­lianto has found Santa Fe to have a good sup­port base for young In­dian artists. “Santa Fe is a place where I feel I can pur­sue my art; I have a con­nec­tion here. The Na­tive pres­ence in Santa Fe is a big fac­tor for want­ing to come back,” he said. “I be­lieve— with IAIA based here, and the Mu­seum of In­dian Arts and Cul­ture, and In­dian Mar­ket— there’s a lot of sup­port and op­por­tu­ni­ties to make those con­nec­tions for artists like me.”

Un­ti­tled print by Kit Ju­lianto

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