Monday, June 15, 2020

New piece

 Scroll down for written stuff.  Or just enjoy the pictures!












Title: “Over Our Dead Bodies”, Size 40" x 60" (approx)
Stained glass

So, this is an image of all the glass parts but its not actually assembled yet as I need a rebar frame made before it gets soldered together. But this is what it will look like.

I started working on this piece several years ago (that is true for all of them--there's a long lage between inception, conception and ejection)   I wanted to work with the "tree of life" idea. Who doesn’t enjoy a good “tree of life” image?  Apparently close to everyone!! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tree_of_life

In the past few years, my work has been drifting inevitably towards something.  I am less interested in the female character which I am known for and the “decorative motifs” which occupied the background are coming into the foreground.  Now I feel I could have predicted this as for years the background was equally important to me as the foreground and as time goes on, its pressing the human figure out entirely. 
Why has this shift in my work happened?  Does anyone care?  Well, I am only speculating here but 1. Change is inevitable in any artists oeuvre.  Narrative, figurative, realist artists might get less so and vice versa.  2.  I am less interested in talking about me personally.  Those female characters were never ME, but boy, did I identify with them!  Now, I am older, and I have had time to grow weary of my own drama.

So, for the past few years, I have become increasingly interested in pushing the flora and fauna forward.  I made a black and white rough draft of the “tree of life” idea a while back, alongside pieces such as “Wild Life”, “Sky Life”, “Cross Pollination” (and these pieces grew out of “Anchoress” and others).  A “tree of life” seemed a logical extension of the idea and something worth exploring.
But what of the preponderance of excellent cultural examples?  What was I going to bring to the conversation?  Ugh, I hate artistic accountability!

Ever since the election in 2016, many artists shifted their focus to a more activist stance, for obvious and righteous reasons.  Although I would never claim to be a political artist, my work began to subtly address environmental issues.  “Beached Whale”, “Immigration Policy”, “Murdered Animal”, “Cross Pollination” for example.  As I worked on the tree of life image, it rapidly became about climate change.

I began calling the piece “Over Our Dead Bodies”.  That was intended to suggest what life on this planet will be like after humans die off.  Even though I feel a certain ambivalence towards my species, I have nightmares about the end of human-kind.  The upside is that our catastrophic meddling with the ecosystem will stop.  One way to see “Over Our Dead Bodies” is of a spectacularly vivid, lush resurgence of animal and plant life.

Then, along came the pandemic to provide the perfect frame of made in which to contemplate these ideas whilst the piece was actually being created. Taking long walks around the city I could see how fast nature begins to reassert itself!  It was pretty amazing and this in only a few weeks!  I saw a Downy Woodpecker!  An Ovenbird!  Kestrels! A Common Yellowthroat (not common in the city!)  There was noticeably less bus exhaust, clear azure skies, etc.  Will we take this lesson home after the pandemic? I sincerely doubt it.  But the respite was profound.  And it informed my piece.

I decided any tree of life worth its salt would most assuredly reflect its origins in the soil.  Although it’s pretty hard to discern, the underworld section has a “branch” pattern which is similar to the tree above.
A tree of LIFE must be predicated on the entire life cycle, not just the living part. 

2 comments:

Petri Anderson said...

Remarkable work Judith. I’m guessing that with such a long gestation period you have more than one piece on the go at any one time. Do you find thoughts crossing across pieces and working their way into other panels you have on the go?

David Hopper said...

Should I keep quiet or exhibit my pitiful command of the English language? Your words and art always impress and inspire me, you are an example of an artist and I reserve that title for a very few people. Thank you Judith I am fortunate to be sharing this time-space with you. David Hopper