Jamian Juliano-Villani Gets to Work (United States, 6 min 08 sec)

Directed by: Nick Ravich

Cast: Jamian Juliano-Villani

Can an artist stay inspired day in and day out? Under near constant deadlines for the last four years, painter Jamian Juliano-Villani grapples with the demands of consistently producing new and better work. Her paintings have received widespread attention, including gallery and museum exhibitions, adding to the stresses of growing as an artist. “The main pressure is maintaining integrity and making work that you feel good about,” says the artist, “even under pressure, which is really difficult.” As a teenager in New Jersey, Juliano-Villani recalls watching artists like Robert Rauschenberg and Frank Stella in the 1973 documentary Painters Painting, which inspired her to move to New York City. After taking on a variety of odd jobs—from overnight diner waitress to gymnastics instructor—her romanticized notion of the city changed, but Juliano-Villani has maintained a relentless dedication to advancing her artwork. “You’re only as good as your last painting,” the artist explains, “so each has got to be better.” Painting a new work in her Ridgewood, Queens studio, the artist experiments with images from her vast digital image collection in a search for solutions, looking for the right content and composition to achieve a balance between psychological depth and light humor. When she gets stuck, Juliano-Villani calls upon friend, studio neighbor and 2017 Whitney Biennial artist Ajay Kurian for input. “I really want to push the paintings, but I don’t know how yet,” she says, “Hopefully I’ll figure it out and make them something that they aren’t yet.”