Helen Juliet Atkins is an artist, curator and arts organizer from Albuquerque, New Mexico. She received a BA in Studio Arts from the University of New Mexico in 2016. Her studio practice and public works are human focused and often engage with community.
Atkins has created public murals in Albuquerque, NM that honor everyday people, especially women whose labor and influence often remain invisible. She was a selected artist for the Lowe's Home Improvement “100 Murals” national project. She also collaborates with her partner Will Guesz on public works across the country. In 2021, they were artists in residence at the Kennedy Heights Arts Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. They are currently working on a series of mosaics for the Fort Logan Mental Health Institute in Denver Colorado. While working on collaborative projects, she is also building a body of work that explores notions of gender, beauty and identity; this work has been shown in galleries locally and internationally in Berlin, Germany.
Atkins is the Associate Director of Opportunity, and Lead Artist of the Arts & Social Justice Apprenticeship at the Harwood Art Center. She was a 2018 recipient of the inaugural Women in Creativity “Shine” Award, which honors creative women and their community impact. Atkins co-founded Plates Against Patriarchy, a visual arts and storytelling project that challenges patriarchal systems of power. She is currently the Vice Chair of the Albuquerque Museum Board of Trustees, and the Treasurer of the governing board of 516 Arts.
Much of Atkins’ work is informed by her cultural, and socio-economic roots. She is a mixed-raced, afro latina, from a working class and immigrant family. While building a dynamic career for herself, she is committed to nourishing the creative eco-system of her community. Thus, much of her work lies in organizing opportunities for her peers, especially for youth and artists of the BIPOC community.
My creative work is motivated by a desire to explore identity, both introspectively and communally. As an interdisciplinary artist, the common thread running through my paintings, sculptures, and community-based projects is its human focus. My work explores the symbiotic nature between individuals and their communities, especially how one’s sense of self is affected by culture. I am attracted to the presence of contradiction in identity, therefore, my work aims to compose opposing forces harmoniously and in various media. I juxtapose notions of femininity and strength, divinity and normalcy, beauty and the mundane to not only reconcile my own contradictions, but to question societal notions of race, gender, and beauty. Throughout my career, I have been deeply involved in community engaged practices. While much of the art world can be inaccessible and whitewashed, I find that socially engaged art creates communities where I, an artist of color, feel welcomed. I am continually interested in engaging with communities that disrupt white-patriarchal norms and share my work to that end.
2021 Fragility, the Harwood Art Center. Albuquerque New Mexico, (solo)
2020 soft, the Harwood Art Center. Albuquerque New Mexico, (solo)
2019 Bridge: Arts & Social Justice Exhibition "Plates Against Patriarchy", the Harwood Art Center, Albuquerque New Mexico (solo)
2019 "Lady's Club" A Room For Ones Own, birds + Richard, Berlin, Germany (group)
"Hive" outdoor mosaic sculpture made in collaboration with Will Geusz and community members organized by the Kennedy Heights Art Center Cincinnati Ohio, 2021
"Unidos" outdoor steel sculpture made in collaboration with Ryan Henel and the Harwood Art Center Apprenticeship Team, Mesa Verde Park, Albuquerque New Mexico, 2019
National Hispanic Cultural Center History Festival in conjunction with the temporary mural “Hidden Histories” 2020