JULIE HINDLEY, AKA MERRITT
Classically trained in the old masters, at nineteen I was about to be turned on my head. Coming from rural Sonoma County, I entered the art program at UCLA and was thrust into the contemporary art scene. Challenged by distinguished instructors like Laddie Dill and installation artist Chris Burden, I was assigned projects I had no idea how to complete with honesty.
Surrounded by hip classmates styling themselves after Andy Warhol, I realized I would probably be snickered at for being unsophisticated. But having worn a full body brace from fourteen to seventeen, I had developed inner resources that left me shy but brave. Calm outside but trembling inside, I explained to Mr. Burden my installation idea was to construct a human size bird's nest. Outside the campus art buildings were several big trees, I would build my nest high in the strong branches.
When it came time to review our projects black clad classmates gazed up at the nest. My heart racing, Mr. Burden grinned and said he didn't know it would be built in an actual tree. Challenging me he asked if it could physically support him. Excited I said yes and plus 3 more! Up we went. He said I had successfully brought something personal, transformed it and bridged it to the edge of contemporary art. It was a thrill. I learned most students failed the project because they resorted to copying what they thought was cool. Upon graduation the art department creates a grand exhibition. The press wrote I was among the few students to work in their own vision.
I went on to live in art hubs like Taos, London and Manhattan and was fortunate to meet and work with many other renowned artists, Chuck Close, Sean Scully, William Wegman...before finally returning to beautiful Sonoma County.
Another passion is helping those who have suffered disfigurement. Board Certified in ocular prosthetics, I participate in medical missions whenever possible. Having volunteered in Central America our group is next set for Haiti.