Senior Art Major’s Show at Sweet Briar is quiet exploration in still life

Posted on March 29, 2018 by Janika Carey

Jules Sudol Jules Sudol during a class in the Art Barn

“What is important?” asks Jules Sudol in her artist’s statement. The business and studio art double major from Scottsville attempts to answer that question in her senior show, which opens with a reception at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 5, in Babcock Gallery at Sweet Briar College. The exhibition will be on view through May 12.

“My work highlights small moments in order to convey a few of life’s most simple or minuscule ideas,” she explains. “My need for detail in realism feeds an obsessive tendency and a fascination with light, texture and color. The pieces that I have created for my senior body of work are examinations of unique objects through oil paint, drawing and printmaking processes. The ability to convey minute details while also producing a richness of color and contrast have drawn me to these mediums.”

Last year, Sudol won the Friends of Art Studio Art Prize for “Shirt,” an oil painting depicting a denim shirt.

Sudol, Clean Jules Sudol, “Clean,” 8 inches x 6 inches, colored pencil on paper

Her senior year, Sudol adds, has served to really hone her technique. “I am also further developing an eye for what makes a meaningful still life,” she writes. “When I select the objects to paint or draw, many of them are special or have a story, while others hold no specific meaning and are simply beautiful. … I am sure that my work varied from my first to second semester, but I tried to create a cohesive senior art show comprised of pieces that challenged and shaped me this year.”

There will be five or six large paintings, Sudol said during a quick interview last week, and “lots of drawings.” She’s not sure yet how many pieces she’ll be able to fit in the exhibit, but it’s clear she has been busy this past year. And there are more ideas popping into her head even now, as she is getting ready to frame. “[Professor] Laura [Pharis] always says, ‘Are you sure you can finish one more?’,” Sudol says, smiling. Then she glances at her watch. “I think I might have time to start another piece before class.”

A few seconds later, she is headed out the door.

Jules Sudol, Abyss Jules Sudol, “Abyss,” detail, 12 inches x 24 inches, oil on canvas

There are lots of things that inspire Sudol. As a radio DJ on The Briar 92.7, she draws most of her inspiration from music — and she’s always listening to tunes when she’s working on her art. Nature is a big one for her, as is pop culture. At Sweet Briar, there is no shortage of the former, which Sudol gets to enjoy often as a rider and member of the College’s IHSA team. A few weeks ago, her team won the regional championship.

When she isn’t at the Art Barn or at the horse barn, Sudol serves as the student liaison on the Academic Affairs Committee and is a member of two tap clubs — the Bum Chums and Aints ‘n’ Asses. But not every minute is scheduled, and that’s important for Sudol.

“My favorite thing to do on campus is to just go off to somewhere like the boathouse or the fields and spend time with my friends,” she says.

Sudol chose Sweet Briar because it’s a women’s college. “I knew I wanted to come here early on in high school,” she remembers. “It means the world to me that I am getting my degree from here after everything that has happened with the school in the last four years.”

With its close-knit community, the College does seem like the perfect fit for Sudol, who counts her mother, grandmother and three siblings among her biggest supporters. They will be there for her, no doubt, when she takes the next steps in her career. Right now, Sudol is planning to move to Virginia Beach and work for a property management company she interned with last summer — while continuing to make art, of course. She’s envisioning a studio space in her house, and yes, one can assume there will be lots of music.

Babcock Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, email Sudol at