An itch she scratches


courtesy of Julia Baroni

Senior Julia Baroni has created art for nearly 15 years and sees it in her future after she leaves Central.

An umber brown desk is vandalized with faces and ink.  Blank walls are coated in a soft lavender. Senior Julia Baroni’s artwork and stickers circumference the border of her mirror.  Pens and pencils pour over her desk.

Since the age of three, Baroni, has always loved to make art.  Art is just something that she does constantly. Even if it’s just small drawings on the side of her paper, Baroni doesn’t think she has gone a day without doing some sort of art.  

When she was younger, Baroni viewed art as something to master— she wasn’t really thinking about style that much. She said she remembers drawing her well-known cartoons, ones people, who are familiar with her work, can immediately recognize. It’s more unconventional compared to a traditional art style where the lines are soft and blended; hers are sharp yet curvy and contain splashes of different colors.  But when she learned more about different kinds of art and philosophically why people make art, she started to gain more confidence in her illustrative style because it was able to serve her purpose for herself and her purpose for others.

“I love the simplicity of the people she draws, and how different it is compared to other art because it’s not your average pretty.  It has a different feel to it that’s weird and sort of creepy and makes you look at human features in a different light,”  said Janine Frieze, senior.

The art style Baroni uses comes from her love of people watching.  “I really enjoy getting to know people personally but also I really enjoy observing people’s faces as they express themselves and go about their days” Baroni said. “All people have their own interesting idiosyncrasies when you really observe them and I think my style embraces that I really love drawing people that are not traditionally attractive or have some feature that’s a little different.”

Something that Baroni really struggles with is the question of why does she make art.  

“I saw she was a hard worker.  She was always challenging herself with complex art, and she enjoys it.  She’s not afraid to take some risks,” said Ms. Laura Milas, department chair of the art program.

One way in which she challenged herself came junior year when she volunteered to go beyond her writing position for the print edition of Devils’ Advocate, and began creating cartoons for the publication. Since then, Baroni has done all of the editorial illustrations for each month of Devils’ Advocate print for 2017-2018.  Aside from Advocate, Baroni also makes comic books as her main form of art.

Last year in AP studio art, Baroni made spreads for a comic book that she later printed copies of; it was called Flimflam, and was about bullshit.  “I was inspired by the paper “on bullshit” by Harry Frankfurt, a Princeton philosopher. The paper tried to define and draw seriousness and relevance to the idea of bullshit,” Baroni said. “Things people say that are not necessarily lies but have no concern for truth, told for an ulterior motive. I thought that was fascinating, so I wanted to see how I could illustrate the concept of bullshit through art, extended metaphor, and situations expressed in comics.”

This year Baroni is in AP studio art again, but she uses it as an independent study.  Since the fall, Baroni has been working on her comic book, Fishbowl, that she will be selling at Chicago Zine Fest on May 18-19 (and also exhibiting at the Hinsdale Central AP Studio show, which was held May 1-3 in the community room).  

Fishbowl uses fishbowls (among other things) as an extended metaphor for personal perception.  The main character wrestles with positive and negative aspects of self-awareness and resulting isolation,” Baroni said.  “Like self-consciousness, awareness of his “fishbowl” makes him more informed about the world around him, but also difficult to feel free.  This one is more personal and the visual and conceptual ideas are a lot stronger and more original. I’m super excited about it.”

Alongside Baroni’s dedication to her artwork, Baroni juggles school life with her out-of-school jobs.  Baroni works at a flower shop in downtown Hinsdale, and is also a Teen Creative Agent at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.  

“What I appreciate the most is Julia not targeting a younger audience but looking at an adult audience. This shows how she wants to be a part of the adult art world and balancing it with school,” Ms. Milas said.

Her position at the Chicago MOCA is a selective program for teenagers in Chicagoland to gain experience in a contemporary museum.  Baroni applied for the position in June 2017 and meets at the museum for four hours every Saturday. The bulk of the work is putting on public programs— some for teens specifically and some for any museum-goer.

Baroni has also won a National Scholastic Gold Medal for one of her digital artworks, called Hedons, that appears in Fishbowl and is going to Carnegie Hall in New York City in June.

Although Baroni’s passion for art continues to grow, she doesn’t see herself as a full-time artist in the future.  As for the immediate plan and college, she has decided to not pursue art as a main focus. She decided to not go to an art school because she didn’t know exactly what she wants her career to be.  Learning about history, the way language is used, and the bigger questions of life is something that she didn’t want to miss out doing in an academic setting in college.

Making philosophical comics and being the editor of the school’s literary magazine, Solstice, helped Baroni realize she wants to go to an university with a great art school and liberal arts program. Baroni looked at dual degree programs where she can earn a Bachelor in Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Arts.  There are few colleges that offer those degrees and are selective, but, the combined degree program at Tufts became Baroni’s first choice, which she plans to do this fall.