February28,1896 - June 29, 1973 American painter, theatre & ballet designer, performance artist, curator.
Julia Connell Thecla was born in Delavan, Illinois and moved to Chicago in around 1920. She was a working artist from around 1920 to 1966, but she was not recognised outside Chicago and she was almost forgotten even before her death. Little is known about her family, she largely severed ties with them.
Julia attended classes at the Art Institute of Chicago, while supporting herself as a commercial artist, copyist and art restorer. These and other subsidiary activities sustained her over many years, she never earned much from her paintings. Even after her arrival in Chicago it was eleven years before she could exhibit. Her first exhibition was the Art Institute’s International Watercolour Exhibition in 1931, when Thecla was already 35. She contributed work to the Art Institute’s various annual shows until her death.
Though she is sometimes described as a surrealist, Julia Thecla’s enigmatic and deeply personal pictures are out on the periphery of the surrealist movement. Much of her work is symbolist or just quirkily representational, rather than really surrealist. She was deeply involved in the artistic community and aware of surrealism and its connotations but, like many women artists, she took only what she liked out of it. Her first truly Surrealist pictures began to emerge in the late 1930’s with works such as Dreamer and Nudes 1937 which depicting a costumed woman, her eyes closed, holding four ropes which are stretched taut and disappear into the sea. Attached to the other ends of the ropes are a line of nudes.