Volunteer Spotlight: Julia Parris AKA Future
When bi-coastal photographer and art director Julia Parris was first being introduced to our students in August, one student called out: “Future! You’re from the future! Hi, future girl!” Ever since then, students have called her all variations of Future, Ms. Future, Future Girl.
“It’s hilarious! I’m pretty sure many of them don’t know my real name,” she chuckles.
An HOLA volunteer superstar, Julia aka Future tells me she has been an artist as far back into her past as she can remember. When I ask her about her life separate from art, she reflects quietly for a moment.
“Art is not just something you do,” she explains. “It’s a way of life, of seeing, interacting and interpreting the world. Making is only an extension of who you are.”
Since August, our visual arts students have been lucky to benefit from Julia’s mentorship and her love for teaching and creating. A commercial photographer for fashion-forward brands, a printmaker, and a creator of photo-based collages, her life as an artist is busy and prolific, but she also finds the time to volunteer at HOLA once a week — for which HOLA is truly grateful.
“The moment I met Julia, I knew she would be a perfect mentor for our youth,” says Visual Arts Director Nara Hernandez. “Not only is she a successful professional, but she is also bright, energetic, engaging and intuitive.”
It is clear that Julia’s approach towards HOLA students is rooted in respect and trust. “I think it is important that they do not just feel that you’re simply passing through their lives. Building trust is important and it takes time. These past six months have been rewarding, watching students push themselves and experiment and having the opportunity grow along with them. I love to watch the students have fun with art – it has been a refreshing reminder that making art is fun, even if it’s simply for the sake of making. I try to carry the same spirit back to my work and life.
When I ask her about her teaching philosophies, she speaks of authenticity. “I think it is very important to be real, and to share a genuine enthusiasm for the projects and for my students. If they’re having a bad day, it is important to meet them where they are; to be genuine and not expect them to act a certain way. This honesty and realness gives them more opportunity for growth and reinforces respect.”
Julia has lived in many cities, and finds that volunteering is one of the best ways to get to know a new community. Born in Kansas City, Missouri, she graduated from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) with a BFA in Photography. After graduating, she moved to North Carolina for work, then Brooklyn. She has lived in L.A. since last March.
“I moved to LA with my husband barely knowing anyone here. But I’ve found community at HOLA, and I’ve found LA to be rewarding creatively. I love how color is incorporated throughout the city; the tropical plants and landscaping, and national parks. I’m working on a project called “Foreign Affairs” which is about LA and my experience of its unique beauty as an outsider.”
Beyond art and teaching, Julia says her relationship with her husband of fourteen years has been a profound source of joy and meaning in her life.
“I married another artist, when we were both very young. We’ve grown up together, and we collaborate professionally on many projects. We challenge each other, inspire, encourage and give feedback on each other’s work. He is invaluable – my best friend.”
HOLA is lucky to have Julia aka Future as a volunteer, and we encourage you to read more about her and her work by visiting her website, www.juliaparris.com and follow her instagram @juliaparris.