Julie Bergeron is a visual artist and educator who has developed and managed art programs in Hartford’s public and private schools, as well as non-profit organizations. Julie’s career focuses on youth development and art consultation, where she uses creativity and visual arts as a vehicle for teaching. Her experience includes school and community-based programs that provide meaningful enrichment options to serve our community’s young people. Julie is currently pursuing creative opportunities with CT Murals. Content creator Karrington Trice asked Julie a few questions about her art journey and thoughts on funding for the arts.
What inspired you to begin creating art?
“Ever since I was young, I have always been interested in art and other people have identified my natural ability with it. I was always encouraged to create art. As I got older, I realized that art resonated with me the most out of any activity.
When I was younger, I had an opportunity to participate in a summer art program, and that was the first time I was able to see art beyond a classroom and see the professional opportunities available. That was really what inspired me to continue to pursue art as an adult. Some of my biggest inspirations when creating art are people, connections, relationships, travel and nature. I love feeling inspired when I am outside and painting outdoors. Sometimes it’s about enjoying the moment for what it is.”
Was anyone in your family an artist as well?
“I have an uncle who is a professional chef, and he was very creative in his cooking. He would always say, ‘cooking is just like art.’ I didn’t understand that much when I was a kid, but now I see it.”
When did you realize that you were an artist?
“I have always been creating art and have been a teaching artist in my career. I feel lucky to be able to do art every day in my job. It wasn’t until after transitioning into a new role in my field where I wasn’t so hands-on with creative projects anymore, that I realized how important it is for me to be creative in my daily work. It interests me to pursue art as something where I’m spending most of my time in my life."
Who are some of your favorite artists?
“I love Alice Neel, Mickalene Thomas, Elizabeth Peyton, and murals by Jessie and Katey. Some of the local artists that inspired me to follow my path were mentors Edjohnetta Miller and Chris London. My favorite art also comes from my students who claim they hate art, they never did art, or they’re not good at art, and then they produce something they are proud of. Those are my favorite artists.”
What advice would you give to other creatives?
“I would say to definitely find a mentor. Follow them, get to know them, and ask them questions. I think if you can travel, you should travel as much as you can and see how art works in different parts of the world. Create and explore different media and subjects and create as much as you can. I always tell my students don’t just work on one painting, work on about three at a time. One is going to come out the way you were hoping for, one may be the practice or accident piece, and the other could be a surprise where you take it in a direction you didn’t know you wanted to go. It is good to explore and not get stuck in what that one original idea was.”
How important is funding for the arts?
“It is imperative. I think art should be accessible for everyone and funding provides opportunities for artists and anyone to explore their interests in arts. It is important to help young people find their passion or interest in something creative. If it wasn’t for the funding that made it possible for me to explore my artistic side as a young adult, I don’t know if I would be in the same position as I am today. I am grateful for the funding that exists, and I hope to see it continue to exist.”
Any upcoming projects?
“I just became a new mom, so I am jumping back into the work I want to pursue. Having a baby has helped me gain clarity of the direction I want to go in my life moving forward. I will be working with CT Murals a lot more and joining a planning committee to help activate some public spaces with other artists this summer. I will be continuing work with summer programs and mural painting. I also want to dive deeper into my own personal artwork. Sometimes teaching can impede my true creative process when always collaborating with others, so I want to move forward with my own voice in my art.”
Be sure to follow Julie's artistic journey on Instagram: @hartford.art