Interview with Judith Page
q)Who are you? Where are you from and where do you live now?
a)I am Judith Page, an artist, writer and educator, who lives in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, NY. Born in Lexington, Kentucky, I began making art as a child, absorbed in a world of words and gothic visions. I continued my focus on art and writing through high school and into programs in painting and art history at the University of Kentucky and Transylvania University in Lexington. I had little exposure to art other than what I found in books or slide lectures. My most profound encounters with “art” until I visited New York at age twenty-one were the sculptures in the Catholic Church that I infrequently attended with my father and visits with the vernacular artists and craftsmen of Kentucky.
q)What is it that you do? What media do you use?
a)I am a multimedia artist who focuses on the human condition and whose art consistently includes the presence of the figure. The form, however, has swung between representation and abstraction, and between painting and sculpture. Many works combine both these approaches in an installation format, and for the past ten years my art has also included collage, drawing, photography, sound, and text.
q)What do you think sets your work apart?
a)My art is distinguished by its expressive use of media and biographical material. Using recycled objects, and real and constructed memories, I selectively reveal aspects of my personal history as I expose the underlying passion-filled dreams, persistent anxieties, and dark desires of humanity. An integral component of my art is the acrylic medium Tar Gel that has both sculptural and painting applications. Mixed with paint, it renders a full-bodied flexible high gloss surface perfect for creating “skins” that resemble, for example, lava or melting plastic. Tar Gel creates a sense of flux that bridges the gap between process and object—a gloriously seductive movement that spills across canvas or paper, and envelops whatever lies in its path. In other words, I want my art to express the relentlessly patient movement of time coupled with the possibility of cataclysm.
q)How long have you been showing your work for? Did you have a “big break?”
a)I have been showing my art for over thirty years. My “breaks” are not career enhancements but rather points in time where I feel that my art made a giant leap forward. One of these “breaks” was a trip to Italy in the early 1980s and another was in the early 1990s when I discovered the medium, Tar Gel.
q)What are some things that have inspired you?
a)Early influences were my father, an amateur historian, photographer, and raconteur, who instilled in me a love and respect for history and the creative process; my optometrist, the photographer Ralph Eugene Meatyard, who influenced me through his commitment to a Gothic vision; and writers such as Flannery O’Connor, Ed McClanahan, and Carson McCullers who provided me with many potent visual images. Other influences include the Roman historian Tacitus; the politician Cassius Clay; the musician John Jacob Niles; and Southern vernacular artists such as Bill Traylor and Howard Finster.
q)What have you been working on recently?
a)My most recent work explores the resilience of the human spirit played out through the juxtaposition of my personal history with the political, social and cultural history of our time. Working with the painting medium Tar Gel, my process becomes a metaphor for the fluidity of our dreams and aspirations as well as the fluidity of historical interpretation—an endless flow of vision and voice. I am embarking on a new body of work based on the writings of Edgar Cayce and the Oracle of Delphi.
q)Do you listen to music while you create your work? If so, would you give some examples?
a)I listen to both music (Philip Glass, The Talking Heads, Emmylou Harris, Patti Smith, Steve Earle) and progressive talk radio, depending on the level of concentration I need. Often, I work in silence.
q)What advice do you have for artists looking to show their work?
a)Networking is essential; nearly every gallery that I have worked with or exhibition opportunity has come through my peer group. An artist needs a good website as that is how your work is initially seen. Research is also important, find galleries or non-profits that are a good match for your art and your career trajectory.
q)Where can people see more of your work on the Internet?
a)My website is www.judithpage.com.