Brooks grew up in Monroe, North Carolina, exploring the woods outside her family home and nearby Lake Norman. Her love of the natural world led her to initially study zoology and the life sciences at North Carolina State University. During this time, she spent her nights in the flourishing underground electronic music scene of the 1990’s. Here, Brooks met a diverse crowd of musicians and artists that would influence her decision to follow her passion for the arts.
Throughout her life, Brooks has always been fascinated by artistic practice and how the world is represented through the eyes of others. This interest was cultivated throughout her childhood and further developed when she opted to transfer to East Carolina University’s School of Art & Design. After enrolling in multiple studio courses, Brooks became enamored with metal and its seemingly unyielding qualities. Her studies with Linda Darty, Robert Ebendorf, Joe Muench, and Mi-Sook Hur, demonstrated not only the malleable quality of metal, but also the multitude of conceptual facets.
She graduated in 2002 with a BFA in Metal Design and a Minor in Anthropology from East Carolina University. After completing her degree, Brooks sought more skills to hone her craft. She began working with Atlanta based enamellist Ricky Frank until she attended graduate school and received an MFA in Artisanry, concentration in Jewelry/Metals, from UMASS Dartmouth in 2008.
Brooks is drawn to themes of transformation elicited from personal narratives and reflection. Her methods involve working in series, using processes and symbolic imagery influenced by each subject to convey emotive intent. Her previous studies in the life sciences have inspired Brooks’ use of organic forms, while the synthetic sounds of musical influences and interests in science fiction are portrayed with a biomechanical format. She feels that the portrayal of organic and inorganic elements are a necessity in creating cohesive collaborations, as they portray the duality that exist in her concepts.
Currently, Brooks teaches workshops at the Tacoma Metal Arts Center in Tacoma, Washington. She has also recently taught at Central Washington University, North Seattle College, Pratt Fine Arts Center, and creates in her workspace at Equinox Studios in Seattle, Washington.
Brooks has been awarded several grants and published in 1000 Rings, The Art of Enameling, 500 Wedding Rings, Humor in Craft, and most recently Narrative Jewelry: Tales from the Toolbox. She exhibits nationally and is included in the collections of David Freda and Rancho Obi-Wan in Petaluma, CA.
A day at the bench. (Photo by Julie Brooks)