Julia Medyńska

Since childhood, I have faced the struggle between the private drama versus the public

persona. I was five years old when my family escaped Poland. Settled in Berlin, the five

of us lived in a single room. My domineering grandmother, the family matriarch, was

determined to fit in with the affluent Germans and hide our impoverishment. She

manipulated her two daughters to climb the social ladder through a series of

advantageous and abusive marriages. In order to blend in at a very prestigious private

school, I learned to “put on a mask” and hide the embarrassing reality of my home life.


In my paintings, I see myself as a film director composing narratives from unrelated

source images to develop an uncanny dramatic scene. I search for my “actors” either in

vintage black and white photography or film stills. Inspired by their body language, I

invent a story. Its setting is either taken from a 19th century landscape painting or a film

still. What attracts me to an image are lurid color temperatures and contrasting lighting

scenarios. I aim for a beautiful yet ominous atmosphere, creating a world where

characters inflict physical harm onto one another. I intentionally keep facial features and

expressions minimal to resist describing an identity. Instead the actors become

archetypes and their physical activity an allegory for a psychopathological world. Each

painting is a horrid secret where I can choose to lift the curtain

b. 1981 Gdansk, Poland


2017 MFA, Columbia University School of the Arts, New York, NY
2013 BA, Columbia University, New York, NY

2016 Finished Goods Warehouse, 630 Flushing Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
2015 MFA First Year Show, The Wallach Gallery, Columbia University, New York, NY
Floating Point, Judith Charles Gallery, New York, NY
People who need People, 7 Dunham, Brooklyn, NY
2013 Floaters, The Leroy Neiman Gallery , New York, NY
2012 Columbia Summer Painting Intensive,The Leroy Neiman Gallery, New York, NY

2014-2016 Visual Arts Fellowship, Columbia University, New York, NY
Brevoort Eickemeyer Grant, Columbia University, New York, NY
2013 Phi Beta Kappa Recipient
2012-2013 F.B. Doniger Scholarship, Columbia University, New York, NY
2010-2012 Olga H. Knoepke Scholarship,Columbia University, New York, NY

2015 Teaching Assistant, Drawing I, Columbia University, New York, NY
2016 Teaching Assistant, Painting I, Columbia University, New York, NY


2001-2003 Certificate of Completion, Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre, New York, NY

2000-2001 The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute, New York, NY