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Art That's All in the Family

While she was a student, Julia Pleasants, of Washington and Lee’s Class of 2008, belonged to the dance club and helped found the W&L Repertory Dance Company. An English major, she recently learned the business side of the dance world when she did a press and marketing internship with the famed Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, in Massachusetts. That experience is coming in handy this summer, as Julia is helping her father, the large-scale installation artist Craig Pleasants, with publicity for his current project: a small, inexpensive, eco-friendly house built from a kit. It’s called the Octagonal Living Unit, OLU for short. “I have been doing the majority of the marketing for the OLU,” she reports.

Julia has been living with one form or another of the OLU for quite a while. “There was actually a half-scale version of the kit house assembled in my parents’ living room for a short period of time,” Julia tells us, “and I helped with the de-construction of that one, which took all of two hours. I’m sure that if he starts to manufacture a lot of these, I will be involved in the construction
somehow. My mom, my two sisters and I have been helping to assemble and transport his artwork for as long as I can remember.” The Pleasantses live in Amherst, Va.

You can watch a video and learn more about the OLU on the Kickstarter website. Julia makes an appearance at the 1:00 mark; she’s reading inside a sculpture that lived in their backyard for a time. “I am also the person who pointed the camera at our dog, Scout, at the very end,” she says. If you’re so inclined, you can also help underwrite the OLU prototype.

When she’s not doing parental p.r., Julia works at the Children’s Museum of Wilmington, N.C. She also volunteers at the Community Arts Center there and teaches dance.

Visitors to W&L’s Staniar Gallery next spring will be able to learn even more about her father’s pursuits. From April 23 to May 25, 2012, Craig Pleasants will present an exhibition called “Volume,” comprising works based on what he calls “aesthetics of necessity.” The show will be his second at W&L; the first was in October 1998 in duPont Hall.

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