Julia Franklin uses her art to tell the stories of what we leave behind. She has been creating art from discarded objects for more than 20 years, but her most recent works are inspired by a single box of her father’s possessions given to her years after his tragic death. To make sense of his suicide, she creates installations with his personal belongings, letters, and documents to examine what people conceal in order to protect and to begin conversations about mental illness and identity. These immersive environments, which are rooted in nostalgia and multi-sensory experiences, have evolved into sets for happenings and collaborative performances.
Franklin received her BFA from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, and earned her MFA from TCU in Fort Worth, Texas. She worked in community outreach at the Dallas Museum of Art before moving to rural Iowa in 2001. She served as Professor of Art at Graceland University for 18 years, where she received the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2011 and the Excellence in Scholarship Award in 2019. She taught drawing, sculpture, experimental media, critical thinking, and survey art history courses and founded Art Academy, a summer art camp for children. Franklin now resides in West Des Moines, Iowa, and works at Drake University as the Anderson Gallery Exhibitions and Community Outreach Manager. She assists Group Creative Services and arts non-profits with grant writing and maintains a studio at Mainframe Studios in downtown Des Moines.
Franklin is a recipient of the prestigious 2018 Iowa Artist Fellowship and a 2019 Iowa Project Grant which are made possible by an annual appropriation from the Iowa Legislature to the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and by the National Endowment for the Arts. Julia has exhibited artworks in over 70 shows across the nation including the Dubuque Museum of Art, City Museum in St. Louis, the Sioux City Art Center, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, the Arlington Museum of Art, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, and many regional colleges and universities. She also participated in a pivotal month-long artist residency at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont.