Paper Jewels by Julia Malakoff

Carol Nahorniak Art & Culture

Featured at Reston Art Gallery and Studios
June 2 – July 4

Julia Malakoff presents her newest mixed media artworks to stimulate the senses of sight, smell, and taste through vivid colors and textures in her solo show, “Paper Jewels,” featured at Reston Art Gallery and Studios (RAGS) from June 2 until July 4. Malakoff’s own senses of smell and taste were altered by a case of Covid in 2020, but as a professional artist she has been able to put her imagination to work to ease the challenges of being a long-hauler, and to bring joy.  

“The Paper Jewels collection has been inspired by imagined senses,” states Malakoff. “This show’s particular palette has been handcrafted to awaken and engage the senses without having the actual stimuli. Instead, colors evoke both aromatic and visual imagery; spring gardens with lavender and rose, hints of lemon and orange essence along with freshly picked eucalyptus sprigs. Landscape views of ocean ambience, sea salt and sunshine; an offering of comfort and calm.”

In 2021, Malakoff’s solo show “Good Juju” marked a beginning of her exploration of imagined smell and taste senses through her art. She explains: “Good Juju was a reflection on life with Covid. My art expressed a learning of how to live with long haul Covid symptoms that have left me with an impaired sense of taste and smell. In the big picture, these are minute and merely an annoying remnant of this awful virus. However, as an artist, I have chosen to use this loss as a prompt. Even though the Good Juju show was about life after Covid and moving forward, the art conveyed what it felt like to live without smell and taste. The images were created on an abstract background stemmed from asemic writing that spelled out Home Sweet Home. This became my mantra and I created bright graphic backgrounds using this technique in each of the paintings. The subject matter in each of the paintings was created using black silhouettes which were truly the shadows representing a life I used to have.” 

Malakoff has recently been practicing “scent” training, and says “even though I can’t smell the roses, I can remember how the roses smelled and recreate that scent in my art. This new technique is evident in my current work. Vivid colors have moved from the background and into the foreground and the black silhouettes have faded into soft shadows. The shades have been lifted, allowing for the light to illuminate in the art and ignite our imaginations. I encourage you to view my art as if you too can imagine the aromatic floral scents. Let the colors and comforting imagery take you to your own imagined view.”  

Malakoff’s art and her message are featured in the esteemed online journal for literary women Grace and Gravity DC as the cover image for the series From the Attic curated by Annie Przypyszny of American University. In her May 28 post, Przypyszny published an interview that tells more of Malakoff’s story as an artist along with expressive descriptions of her work –  http://graceandgravitydc.com/from-the-attic.html

As Malakoff says, “You don’t have to travel far to find little pockets of joy. Our homes have become our havens and it’s more important than ever to find joy wherever we are. Much of my art focuses on capturing candid moments. Since most of us have been unable to travel, I hope that art lovers are able to use their own imagined gifts to find their comfort and calm and treasure the moments in Paper Jewels.”

Among her many successes with her work, Malakoff recently delivered “Orange Essence,” a large 72” x 30” piece  commissioned by the new Kaiser Permanente medical center, Caton Hill, in Woodbridge, VA. The bespoke mixed media artwork is a tribute to people with “parosmia,” or loss of smell and taste.

The Paper Jewels show is open on weekends from 12:00 until 5:00 p.m. through July 3, and on the Independence Day holiday, Monday, July 4. On other days the display can be viewed in person by appointment by contacting the artist, and can be seen 24/7 through the glass façade of RAGS. All are invited to meet Malakoff at two informal receptions hosted by the gallery on Saturday, June 11 and Sunday, June 26 from 2:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. Follow @juliamalakoffart on Instagram and Facebook, and see more about the artist and her work at https://juliamalakoff.com/

While viewing the Paper Jewels show, gallery visitors can also enjoy works displayed by all seven artists of RAGS, as well as the scenery of the lakeside setting. Neighboring the gallery are local restaurants with outdoor seating, and it is just steps away from Lake Anne’s Saturday morning Farmers Market. Furthering its nurture of art, RAGS offers free, themed Crafts for Kids every Saturday morning at the gallery, April through December, from 10:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. 

Reston Art Gallery and Studios (RAGS) is located on the lakeside of 11400 Washington Plaza West, Reston, VA 20190 by the orange “ART” sign at historic Lake Anne Plaza. For GPS directions and parking, search “Lake Anne Plaza.” Follow @RAGSReston on Facebook, @RestonArtGallery on Instagram, and for general information visit RestonArtGallery.com


About Reston Art Gallery and Studios (RAGS)

This artists’ collective is a source of beauty that inspires creativity in all who visit. New shows each month feature the latest works of the seven artists of RAGS –  Dorothy Donahey, Sandra Dovberg, Rosemarie Forsythe, Pat Macintyre, Julia Tova Malakoff, Marthe McGrath, and Wayne Schiffelbein. The unique variety of works displayed at RAGS – paintings in watercolor, acrylic and oil, mixed media collage, mobiles, photography, original prints, art objects, artist-made jewelry, and more – are available for purchase. On weekdays the artists are preparing commissions, new works, and their next special exhibits, and  those working on site can be viewed through the gallery’s expansive glass façade. RAGS is open to the public every weekend afternoon. The orange “ART” sign at historic, scenic Lake Anne Plaza leads to the entrance of Reston Art Gallery and Studios, a Reston landmark established in 1987, located on the lakeside of 11400 Washington Plaza West, Reston, VA 20190. GPS: “Lake Anne Plaza” for directions to the parking area. Follow @RAGSReston on Facebook, @RestonArtGallery on Instagram, and get more information at RestonArtGallery.com