Urgent Importance

February 8 – March 5, 2017


My current work explores themes of technology and communication in an attempt to examine the possibilities and limitations of communication in the 21st century. The rise of the use of technological devices, immediacy of communications and options of how to communicate pose many questions:

• Have we become an urgent society and have we confused important communications with urgent communications?
• Are there chemical changes in the brain as a result of too much “screen time”?
• Are we creating addictions to technology?
• Has technology altered our sense of self within the context of our intimate relationships?

I am producing a large body of work that consists of both paintings and drawings. These paintings and drawings are collaborations between others; as we exchange photographs via Snap chat or we engage in Apple Face Time interactions. Messages exchanged via the above digital communications travel through our brain and memory very quickly. By painting and drawing images of technology I am slowing down the process allowing the viewer to contemplate technology in a different context.

I was born in Brooklyn New York and when I was six months old, my parents moved to a small Village in England, where I lived until I was fourteen. Currently I live in Denver. I received my undergraduate from Western Illinois University; My first Masters is in art therapy from The School of The Art Institute in Chicago, and my second masters of fine art in visual art from Vermont College of Fine art. I worked as an art therapist for about twelve years, before deciding to retrieve the second masters in Fine Art. I am full time faculty in the Foundations department at Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in Denver.


Brought as a baby to England by well-traveled parents, Julie Puma spent her first fourteen years there with summers spent in her native Brooklyn. Her earliest memory of art is at age five when her mother gave her a set of oil paints which she used to paint a flower on a Styrofoam meat package. Only a year later her mother would pass away from breast cancer. Her father remarried and his work with IBM moved Julie, her sister, and the new family back to the United States where they settled in the Chicago area. An interest in art wasn’t apparent in high school, but after graduating from Western Illinois State University, Julie went on to The School of the Art Institute of Chicago to achieve a Masters of Art in Art Therapy. Her passion for painting was kindled as she taught art therapy while experiencing its healing powers for herself and deepening her own creative talent.

Julie made her way to Colorado to care for her sister who was also afflicted with breast cancer. Here she met her husband, gave birth to a daughter, and continued to refine and cultivate her artistic growth. Fueled by her family tragedies, Julie’s painting and art evolved as a means for greater communication and exploration of social and political themes. She earned a second Master’s degree in Fine Art in Visual Art with the Vermont College of Fine Art. Currently, Julie is a full-time Faculty Member in Foundations at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in Denver. Julie’s work has been exhibited nationally and locally in several solo and collaborative shows since 1997. Prized by collectors, her drawings and paintings are personal and powerful, resonant and relevant contemporary realism.

Noticing the way in which her teen-aged daughter communicates almost completely in imagery instead of words through the popular social media platform, Snapchat, inspired Julie to give substantive form through oil paintings and drawings to those urgent, ten-second disappearing screen captures. In creating tangible, preserved art from those rapidly fleeting images, their urgency is slowed to offer closer contemplation and context.

Urgent Importance exhibits Julie’s thought provoking imagery intended to challenge our relationship to the instantaneous communications of social media platforms. Invasive social messaging from Twitter and Snapchat create an overwhelming stream of information and images that demand attention and can feed an addiction to technology’s digital world. Facetime and Skype afford users instant views of each caller to the other, altering our own sense of self through a digital screen. Julie’s drawings and paintings capture such fleeting social interactions to offer an opportunity for reflection on the meaning of this urgent barrage of imaging and messages. Her artwork provides a contemplative view of social media to craft a bridge to capture the nuance of ephemeral electronic images and messages.

Urgent Importance as an exhibit reminds the viewer that reaction to the current tsunami of images, and messages can be slowed, questioned, and while kept in the moment, offer reflection.