Judith Joseph — ARTIST

Judith Joseph
Photo by Amy Perlmutter


Interview with the artist Judith Joseph —


1. Who are you and what do you do?
I am a visual artist and culture communicator. I specialize in commissioned works: paintings and illustrated calligraphic works, especially the Ketubah (Jewish decorated marriage contract, a folkloric tradition). I enjoy telling peoples’ stories in art. I also create and exhibit work that is driven by my inner vision: woodblock prints, paintings and installation. I teach painting and calligraphy at the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Art Center, Highland Park, Illinois.


“Soul Accounting”


2. Why art?
Making art puts me in a zone of joy and deep exploration. It allows me to feel my creative wheels turning and shows me evidence of inventiveness, insight, progress. It is very fulfilling. The experience of making art is amplified by the response when people interact with my work, but truly the big reward happens while I’m working.


“Ghost Scroll III”


3. What is your earliest memory of wanting to be an artist?
I started really loving art by about age 5. At age 6, I made a picture of a Paris street scene (inspired by the Madeline illustrations by Ludwig Bemelmans) as a gift for a teacher who was moving to France. The teacher made a point to show it to my mother, and I realized that this was something I could do well and would earn me praise. So, that added a cherry to the sundae that was art-making.

4. What are your favorite subject(s) and media(s)?
I love painting in egg tempera, watercolor and acrylic, but right now I’m passionate about woodblock print-making.


“Golem Dreams of Flying”


5. How do you work and approach your subject?
My subjects are often culturally connected, through literature or history. But, my work begins with emotion. Immersed in feeling, I begin to see images, and I go from there. I find that if the emotional connection is lacking, the work ends up being too cerebral.


“Dark Heart”


6. What are your favorite art work(s), artist(s)?
This is definitely a moving target, but I would say Anselm Kiefer, Paul Klee, Charlotte Salomon, Peter Brueghel the Elder, Hannelore Baron, William KentridgeWinslow Homer (watercolors)… My mentors for how to be an artist are Picasso, for his incredible creativity and willingness to try different media, as well as hard work); and Japanese calligrapher Shozo Sato, for the purity and discipline of his line and his personal humility and grace.


“Ketubah Ferris Wheel”


7. What are the best responses you have had to your work?
I had a collector tell me that, when his house was on fire, he grabbed my artwork and ran out. Also I was very pleased to have a positive response from Chicago artist Tony Fitzpatrick, who I greatly admire, and who offered me a solo show in his gallery, The Dime, after viewing my portfolio of woodcuts.


“Inner Life of Golem”


8. What do you like about your work?
I like the multiple levels of meaning I instill in the work, so that it can be “read” many ways; it keeps on telling a story that will evolve and change over time with the viewer.

9. What advice would you give to other artists?
Quantity and quality are important: work hard, make lots of work and don’t get too attached to any particular piece. Don’t be afraid to set high standards for yourself. Don’t get too caught up in the romance of the material.


“Hope Nest”


10. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
I live in the now.

Judith Joseph is a Chicago artist and art-educator.


Judith Joseph


WEBSITE: https://www.judithjosephstudio.com/
INSTAGRAM: judithjosephstudio
FACEBOOK: Judith Joseph Artist
PINTEREST: https://www.pinterest.com/ketubahjudith/
EMAIL: judithstudio@gmail.com