Julia Thecla was born as Julia Thecla Connell on February 28, 1896, in Delavan, Illinois, and passed away on June 29, 1973, in Chicago. She was an integral part of the Chicago art scene and was known for her unique and mysterious persona, a quality that manifested in her work as well.
Thecla studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she took a lithography class led by Francis Chapin. She created three prints during this time, her only known work in this medium. She was also part of the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration, earning $90 per month. Some of her confirmed WPA paintings include "Bunny Backstage" (1939), "Chess: White's Move" (1939), and "Two Daisies" (1938).
Her work was exhibited in numerous galleries and museums before the Exhibition by 31 Women, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Albert Roullier Art Galleries, Findlay Galleries, and the Newark Museum. Thecla was already an established artist in the 1930s and was involved in various art associations in Chicago, such as the Chicago No-Jury Society of Artists, the Neoterics, and the Chicago Society of Artists.
Thecla never married or had children, and there is no known information about any romantic partners. As part of the vibrant Chicago art scene, she had relationships with many notable artists, including Gertrude Abercrombie, Ivan Albright, Macena Barton, and Charles Sebree. Thecla was particularly close with Abercrombie and Albright.
In addition to her art friends, Thecla maintained friendships with people outside the art world, such as Marian Andreas, Bob Edelmann, Ed Hefter, Claire Kellog, Petronel Lukens, and David Porter. She also had connections to the ballet world, being friends with ballerina Mary Guggenheim and dancer/choreographer Bernice Holmes. Between 1945 and 1946, Thecla designed costumes and stage sets for ballets choreographed by Holmes.
The Exhibition by 31 Women featured Thecla's work "Magnifying Glass" (1942). The current location of this work is unknown, and no photographs of it have been found.
Julia Thecla remains an enigmatic figure in the history of American art. Her involvement in the Chicago art scene, participation in the WPA, and inclusion in the 31 Women exhibition reveal her impact on the world of art during her time. Thecla's work and persona continue to intrigue art enthusiasts and researchers, as they strive to learn more about this mysterious and talented artist.