We invite you to the galleries of the Francis Cope House to see
an exhibition of recent work featuring bird images by Philadelphia artist Julie Zahn.
This exhibition will be on display March 2 through April 28, 2022 (Tues, Wed, and Fri 10 AM – 4PM, or by appointment) with an Opening & Artist’s Reception on Sunday, March 13th, 4:00–6:00 PM.
Admission is FREE. No registration require. Please note: All participants must show proof of COVID vaccination and will be required to wear a mask while in the Cope House.
Location: the Cope House, 1 Awbury Rd, Philadelphia, PA
Above: Birds preen and pose in the wild gardens depicted in Julie Zahn’s recent work using mixed media, including woodcut, Japanese stencil dyeing, and collage.
Painter and printmaker Julie Zahn was raised in Bethesda, Maryland. Her mother, artist Ann Zahn, operated a printmaking workshop in their house where Julie learned to do monoprints and etchings as a teenager. After college, Julie spent several years in a countryside town in Japan, where she was hired to teach English but spent her free time painting landscapes and still-lifes. Upon returning to the States, she enrolled in the 4-year certificate program at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. After graduating, she was awarded a travel scholarship to fund a trip to Kyoto where she spent a year working with an antique screen restorer. Toward the end of her stay there, she discovered katazome or Japanese stencil dyeing, a paste-resist technique traditionally used for textiles. Attracted by its painterly potential, she adapted it to paper using acrylics and pigments with gojiru, a soybean binder, creating paintings with a printmaking element. She uses katazome, woodcut, and painting to create her distinct, recognizable work. Her studio is in East Mt. Airy just five minutes from Awbury Arboretum, and she exhibits regularly in Philadelphia and Washington, DC.
I have been working to create a natural oasis on my urban spot of land for many years. My surroundings permeate my work and I use images from what I see or imagine might be there. I have also painted landscapes for many years, working in Maine or Maryland, always with a view of water. But the garden, which I walk through to get to my studio, is my most constant and immediate source of inspiration: the way the pathways meet the rocks, plants finding their way through the metal gates, the ever-changing light, these impressions all feed my visual compositions.
There are many artists that I particularly love, such as Manet, Matisse, Diebenkorn, and Munakata. But paramount has been the influence of a Japanese aesthetic, perhaps because I learned to draw and paint sitting beside rice fields in the Japanese countryside and on tatami mats in my apartment in Utsunomiya. This influence has permeated my work and I have spent my whole life reinterpreting it in my own way.
Birds entered my work unexpectedly a few years ago. I needed a wedding gift for my ornithologist brother. With their arresting poses, their energy and charm, birds provide everything I want in my work: drama, design, beauty. They also gave me a much-needed diversion during Covid and I named this body of work the “Covid Bird Series.”