55 Julie Rotblatt-Amrany
Julie with her husband Omri
“After many years of formal education and creative productivity, my personal artistic vision has come to strongly embrace the combination of spiritual and physical elements …the mind-body connection. I’m interested in emotional intelligence, higher consciousness, genetic engineering, medical and spiritual healing. I’m intrigued by the exploration of multiple dimensions; uncovering unknown areas as we evolve to a higher state of being, hopefully not recreating past mistakes. I believe this vision is reflected in the way we work individually and collaborate. Our concepts have depth and meaning; I think that is why the media have been so interested in us. We are grateful to have earned public respect in so many cities. I believe we are giving something hopeful and energizing back, as we explore the lives of heroic figures and hold up parts of their human and soulful experience that can inspire others.”
Julie and Omri are sculptors who collaborate on large, figurative public works, from their studio in Fort Sheridan, Illinois (IL), just north of Chicago. Combining realism with bits fantasy and abstract geometry, Julie describes their art as "evolutionary symbolism". They have exhibited internationally, including the Beaux Arts Exhibition in France and the Shanghai Art Fair (both in 2000). They have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the LA Times, ESPN Magazine, the Chicago Sun-Times and many other publications. They've won an award of excellence from the Chicago Bar Assoc, and another from Best of Hollywood, IL. And, they've created the Julia Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to creating a public sculpture garden in Fort Sheridan, IL.
'The Spirit: Michael Jordon', 1994
Julie Rotblatt grew up in Highland Park, in Chicago. She studied at many universities, starting with her BA in art at the U. of Colorado in Boulder. She then studied figure drawing, painting, and sculpting at the Art Inst. of Chicago. In 1982 she studied at Marin College in San Francisco, where she also took a medical course in dissection. She then studied under Manuel Neri at the U. of California in Davis. In 1985 Julie traveled to Perugia, Italy, through Boston U., to study, then moving to Pietrasanta where she learned to sculpt marble, from the same quarry used by Michelangelo. While there, she got a job working for Studio Sem, which fabricated many large works for famous artists like Joan Miro and Henry Moore. She also met and fell in love with Israeli sculptor Omri Amrany. They married in '87, spending two years in Israel before moving back to Chicago.
Julie taught art, and in 1992, besides earning a teaching certificate, she and Omri started a sculpture studio, similar to that in Pietrasanta - one that would teach apprentices while completing commissions. Their first big break was a large 1-ton bronze statue of Michael Jordan (shown above). Attached to the base only at the knee, he flies through the air, defying gravity just like the real athlete. Weightlessness and figures in motion have become signature features in many of their works:
Julie and Omri have used their work to further many worthy causes. They made 55 small bronze maquettes of Jordan's sculpture, which they sold for $10,000 each, sending all the proceeds to the James Jordan Boys & Girls Club, which funds after-school activities for students.
Shortly before finishing Michael Jordan's sculpture, Julie was diagnosed with breast cancer. She beat the disease, and, in thanks created two artworks as gifts to the Kellog Cancer Care Center in Evanston, IL. One was a triptych painting in oil, titled 'Healing Energy':
The second was this sculpture, titled 'Dancing Electrons':
In 2002, Julie and Omri completed their largest work. They designed an entire 9-acre park (3.6 hectares) in Munster, Indiana, as a memorial to US war veterans. During the course of the project, the artists led a team of landscapers, and interviewed numerous veterans to hear their stories:
Omri said of the park (from their website), “We will not do a heroic or propaganda approach to the wars, but instead express the suffering reality of life for the soldier in the field.”
Julie's vignette of a Vietnam War soldier
Julie said the purpose was, ". . . to educate the public, and especially the younger generation, about the horrors of war. The Park is about honor and memory, but also about how we hope to evolve as a species to break the cycle of war."
Julie and Omri dared to work figuratively at a time when it was out of fashion - which explains why they had to look outside of traditional art venues for commissions. But, their inspiration isn't simply Michelangelo. Julie and Omri share an intense fascination with modern science, astronomy, physics, and medicine, and so they incorporate these new fields of knowledge into their art. They see our universe as a balance between serenity and tension - of constant change, and see this as a metaphor for life.
As a life-long learner, Julie continued her studies, gaining an MFA at the Art Institute of Boston in 2013 (This could have been an honorary degree?).
'Chicago White Sox 2005 Championship Piece', 2007 - front
'Chicago White Sox 2005 Championship Piece', 2007 - reverse
'Quest for Exploration: James A. Lovell (2005)'
'Against the Wind'
'Compassion Moves a World'
'Suspended in Time'
'Jackie Chan Tribute' 2010
'Serenity of Stones'
'Pixels of Knowledge'