Julie Grantz is the recipient of the Best in Show award for last year's annual Salon at the Triton: 2D Art Competition and Exhibition. Her highly detailed and realistic drawings are beautifully expressive, personal, and intimate. Her large scale charcoal works are a must see in person, so the viewer has the opportunity to absorb every detail. Grantz's works on empowering and uplifting the women she depicts.
As I initially began to conceptualize this body of work, my working title was “Smaller.” In our society, I strongly believe that women feel pressure to limit their self-expression. This resonates deeply with my own journey. Throughout my life, I've carried the weight of constantly needing to make myself smaller, fading into the background and silencing my voice—not only to navigate the world but also to fit into the lives of others. I've often felt like a burden, unintentionally occupying the space meant for others. This idea of becoming smaller for survival is woven from a narrative that highlights the importance of conforming to the role of a compliant and well-behaved “good girl” as the only way to be accepted and successful. According to this archetype, the “good girl” should be quiet, polite, and avoid seeking her own desires. The drive to shrink oneself isn't just rooted in the “good girl” philosophy; it's also fueled by a desire for control propagated by a society that expects women to be unassuming, obedient, and rule-abiding. These tight boundaries stifle our potential, suppress our ambitions, and mute our voices, diminishing our dreams and muting the vibrance of our imaginations.
Over the past year, as I dedicated myself to creating more and more drawings for this body of work, I noticed a distinct change: a shift in the story being told. The narrative extended beyond just my sense of Smaller. Some of the pieces, gestures, and symbols began conveying something entirely different—some even grew louder, asserting themselves. I started to feel the emergence of my voice, rising distinctly, confidently, and audibly.
As this evolution unfolded before me, I aimed to find a title that captured the juxtaposition between past trauma and current growth, along with the duality of living a life of both merely surviving and flourishing within each day.
My aim is to reveal and share the emotional spaces where I've felt disarmed by life's challenges, as well as how I've learned to arm myself, to protect and empower myself. My experiences of feeling disarmed exposed me to vulnerability and defenselessness in the face of life's trials. While my journey has included trauma, my journey hasn't only been about vulnerability; it's been a path to empowerment.
Through my artistic expression, I want to highlight the moments of transformation where I've intentionally armed myself against both internal and external adversaries. I have strived to capture not only the conflicts but also the victories—instances when I've crafted my own armor from resilience, self-awareness, and a determination. As I have come to realize that my voice isn't quiet or “smaller," it confidently reverberates within my work. As my confidence in my voice grows, so too has the scale of my drawings.
By exploring these emotional landscapes, I hope for the work to connect with others on their own paths through disarmed vulnerability to armed self-empowerment as new voices are grow from within.