Julie Struck is a mixed media artist, creative writer, creative activist and veteran arts educator with decades of experience both creating and teaching college level studio art and design courses, as well as many local, regional and national exhibitions to her credit. She earned BFA and MFA degrees in traditional studio art at Northern Illinois University, but her professional and creative work has always touched upon and explored anything that illustrates her interest in dissolving boundaries and celebrating connections, including those between visual art and other discipline areas such as social work and psychology.
After a dramatic career change from a professor of art to a teaching artist to underserved audiences, including three years as designer and director of a homeless shelter art program entitled Art In The Margins, Ms. Struck became an AmeriCorps member, then AmeriCorps VISTA Leader and now an AmeriCorps Program Director to support her continued commitment to serving vulnerable populations. She became involved in suicide awareness and prevention after losing a partner to suicide in 2016, and in 2017 helped create Artvention, a unique annual visual art experience for those impacted by suicide and sponsored in part by the Psychology Department at Eastern Kentucky University. Additional healing and empowering art projects include annual participation as Special Interests Art Instructor in EKU’s Upward Bound Program, and her founding membership in Murals of Berea, Kentucky, in which she serves as a facilitator of community designed and directed murals that raise public awareness and create social change.
Julie Struck is also a creative writer. Several excerpts of a memoir about connections between her academic career and surviving an abusive childhood are in print, including Spruce Hill Press, Botticelli Magazine, Still Point Arts Quarterly and Line Zero. Many of her mixed media artworks made their way into literary journals, as well, including Vine Leaves, Gambling the Aisle, Kestrel‘s Fall 2013 issue, which was showcased at the 2014 Associated Writing Programs Conference in Seattle, and Columbia College South Loop Review‘s final print issue in 2015. In addition, and since the death of a loved one by suicide in 2016, Ms. Struck has been working on another memoir entitled The Art Bag Lady and about that relationship, which started in a homeless shelter, as well as her transformation in middle age from a beleaguered academic to a servant leader and creative activist using visual art for empowerment and social change.
For thirty years Julie Struck has been making traditional art about family history, memory and truth, from abstract barn-like structures to collages of memorabilia to digitally produced photographic and text based animations and videos. However, after losing a marriage and a loved one to suicide in 2016 everything changed, including her art, which had for some time been refocused on helping “others” — societal pariahs and outcasts — make something out of themselves through art making. This fundamental artistic change was further fueled by a 2017 diagnosis of a type of arthritis which will continue to change the way she engages in and with visual art.
Ms. Struck is now more of a facilitator than a maker of art, although her creative activist visions drive many of her collaborative projects. Check back here later in 2019 and 2020 to see a youth designed and driven mural project unfold about those who struggle with mental health and illness issues.