Julie Speed: Undertoad | In collaboration with Flatbed Press and Gallery
February 18 – March 19, 2016
The question that arises time and time again with Speed’s work is what does it all mean? There is a physical presence to the work that draws people in; these are not works meant to be seen from across the room but rather up close, not glanced at but stared at intently. The artist wants us to look and to think about meaning, about storytelling, but there are no hard and fast answers to be had. In the post-modern tradition, the audience is not told what to think or how to interpret. The audience determines meaning; and the meaning can be different for different viewers at different times. Speed has written that when it comes to the question of how we are to interpret her works, “my thoughts, even my really, really deep thoughts, about them carry no more weight than anyone else’s.” Does that mean we are cast adrift like the people on the sinking boats Speed so often includes in the backgrounds of her compositions? No, not at all. We must rely on our own experiences, knowledge, and prejudices. In other words, we must rely upon what we have packed away in the cultural baggage we bring with us when we travel to Speed’s world.
Speed has exhibited throughout the United States and internationally at numerous galleries and museums. The Undertoad exhibition runs concurrently at both Ruiz-Healy Art in San Antonio and Flatbed Press and Gallery in Austin, Texas and celebrates the artist’s 50th and 51st solo exhibitions. Two monographs by UT Press have been published on Speed’s artwork: SPEED, ART 2003-2009 and Julie Speed: Painting, Constructions and Works on Paper. Speed’s artworks can be found in a number of public collections including Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, The Art Museum of Southeast Texas, The Grace Museum, The McNay Art Museum, The Contemporary Austin and the San Antonio Museum of Art.