Meet SCAD alum Julie Torres as we discuss her journey to The Met.
Julie Torres, “Super Diva!” (2020, screenprint), 20 inches by 16 inches
In 2013, Julie Torres was sitting at a desk in her Jacksonville law firm. The University of Florida grad had been practicing law for almost seven years and was very happy, but that same year, her father passed, and the tragic event emphasized to her how fleeting life really is. Torres, who started painting in first grade, always had an affinity for the creative field, and something about this tragic moment served as a catalyst for her to explore that. “Experiencing the death of someone so close to me was one of those wake-up call moments. I had this feeling inside my gut that there was something else I am supposed to be doing,” says Torres. “That was when I finally had the courage to do what I had in my heart always really wanted to do, which was to pursue art and be an artist.” Torres promptly applied to Savannah College of Art and Design’s Atlanta campus, set to major in printmaking. “So here I am at 33, back in school at SCAD,” says Torres. “It wasn’t until my senior thesis, a series that dealt with the Lilly Ledbetter case and Equal Pay Act, that I really was able to meld together my two life passions.” Today, Torres has created pieces for Atlanta’s biggest names like Delta Air Lines and Sara Blakely of Spanx, and, most recently, one of her pieces was selected to be included in the Selections from the Department of Drawings and Prints: Revolution, Resistance, and Activism exhibition at one of the world’s most famous museums, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Beginning this July, The Met began displaying her screenprint titled “Super Diva!”—a portrait of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As seen here, her work doesn’t just depict these legal cases and figures the way we remember them in history books, but each piece is filled with color, texture and, in the artist’s own words, hopefulness. “‘Super Diva!’ at The Met is frequented by a lot of parents and grandparents teaching their kids about who this figure was,” says Torres. “Even though these are hard and complicated topics, my art is positive and approachable while still making you think.” And the artist isn’t done. Right now, Torres is researching Billie Jean King and Title IX as we approach the 50th anniversary of its passing. “My biggest accomplishment was the journey I went on to find the courage to make this big change in my life and do what I feel I was put on this earth to do—and that is to make art.”
Artist Julie Torres
Photography by: Torres photo by Luanne Demeo; "Super Diva" photo courtesy of Julie Torres