In her Heaven & Earth Series, Mary Judge uses colored graphite powders and pigments on paper to achieve a comparable spirituality rooted in a combination of “womb symbols as structure” represented through natural elements and the concept of nirvana (the ideal condition of rest, harmony, or joy). At first glimpse, these works seem like abstract, bird’s-eye views of drawings in the sand or overexposed photographs of constellations. The artist achieved this effect, like in her earlier works, through spolvero—an ancient method of driving dry pigments through tiny perforations to transfer an image onto another surface, something not so different from the process of Buddhist sand paintings.
The symmetrical structural format and pouncing technique using dried pigments to transfer drawings onto her ceramic sculptures, helped determine her direction in papermaking. Judge made mylar stencils, which she placed over her drawings, tracing the lines with silicon, which is transparent. At first, a low relief embossment resulted from the design on the stencil when it was placed face down on a newborn sheet. To achieve more surface detail and interest, she added graphite powder and various metallic pigments onto the stencil surface; some mixed with the water, some resisted, forming air bubbles and other fractal patterns on the cotton pulp. The concentric pattern evolved naturally, transforming the image through repetition.
Mary Judge received her BFA from Moore College of Art in Philadelphia and her MFA from the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. She has also studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.
Workspace Program artist-in-residence 1999