Julia C R Gray

Julia C R Gray Artist Biography

Julia C R Gray, is a native California artist who sculpts ceramic torsos with rich layers of form, texture and painted narrative imagery. She worked as a representational painter from 1980 to 2010, creating murals and oil paintings, until she returned to university to study sculpture. She completed a BFA with Honors, in 2014, from San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI). Gray studied abroad in Argentina, through SFAI. She has been awarded scholarships and art grants from SFAI and Davis Projects for Peace for art and environmental work in Bali, Indonesia.

Gray’s artwork is featured on the cover of Modified: Living as a Cyborg and published in the Biotechnology book: The Posthuman Condition: Ethics, Aesthetics & Politics of Biotechnological Challenges. Selected art exhibitions include The California Clay Competition, Davis, CA, Oceanside Museum of Art, CA, Diego Rivera Gallery, San Francisco Art Institute, CA, The American Museum of Ceramics, Pomona, CA, CSU Dominguez Hills, Los Angeles, CA, The Atheneum Arts and Music Library, La Jolla, CA, and the Women’s Museum of California, San Diego, CA. Gray partnered with San Diego River Park Foundation to create a Public Art mural depicting the river and its native animal species.

Julia C R Gray works from her home studio in Cardiff by the Sea, California. Her daily art practice includes photographing sunrise beach walks and bringing revelations from her ritual into the ceramic studio.


Each ceramic torso is individualized through hand-painted glaze images and surface texture of layered ceramic slip. After texturing the outer surface, I carve holes into the clay to give the viewer superficial visual access within the body structure where red glaze is painted. Each sculpture has its own narrative artwork that conveys multilayered messages, starting with vulnerability of the oceans and our bodies, balanced with the dialectic message of the power of the oceans and the strength of our bodies. I research current events, Renaissance Women Master Artists, and my own images captured during beach walks. I choose to repaint (and modify) paintings from Renaissance Women Artists to bring their masterpieces to our awareness. I am constantly amazed that the issues/abuses they depicted in their artwork continue to be relevant in our contemporary times.

I am pulled by dichotomies of life, if I explore strength I also must reveal vulnerability or desire/aversion, extinction/restoration, etc. The struggle to reveal/hide is apparent in the sculpture’s design. The organic torso form contains hidden flat geometric surfaces within. I contrast red glossy glaze and gold luster details with matte oxide and underglaze hand-painted portrait narratives. Installing the torso’s six columns further apart allows the viewer to easily see the paintings on each of the torsos. When installed-just inches-apart, it is an effort for the viewer to see the imagery rendered on the columns' inner surfaces, creating a sensation bordering on voyeurism.

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