Member Highlight

Jay Judge


Over the years my interests have evolved from cast metal and fabricated steel abstractions to dumpster detritus and dollar store plastic constructions, from electronic light and sound installations to book arts and printmaking. Over time I’ve come to realize that I’m now much less of a top-down thinker, less analytical and given much more to impulse and the momentary chance.

I’ve also become a phone camera street chronicler, internet image trawler and thief. I’ve lost patience with creating my own images from scratch. (I don’t really draw anymore.) The phone photo album is my sketchpad.

Lately I’ve been preoccupied with the nature of time, impermanence, fragility and within it a search for the possibility of renewal (a poetic recycling of what I find destroyed or discarded in the street). In addition I’ve also returned to an old interest in pure abstraction with respect to the book format. To the possibility of a purely abstract narrative across shaped pagination, where letters are replaced with geometric shapes in a “storyline.” With respect to silkscreen, I’ve also been playing with the humorous notion of painterly plasticity in a medium devoid of it.

On the surface, my studio practice almost doesn’t make sense. It’s both rudimentary and ridiculously circuitous. Through digital apps I strip images I’ve “appropriated” to a reductive “essence.” These simplified elements are then juxtaposed and shifted in multiple layers until a random interim composite emerges. Once hard copy is output, it’s folded, cut, taped, painted or otherwise defaced… then re-scanned or re-photographed only to begin the process again. Analog to digital and back again in modified iterations.
My original intent is always for speed and simplicity. But multilayered composites soon become labor-intensive, especially in film separation. It can sometimes take weeks. Final silkscreen frames can have as many as 30 or more elements. And within each element there could be multiple passes of ink to get the right “underpaint” to support the surface color effect.

I started as a printmaker with photo-etching many years ago. But have been intensively involved with photo-lithography and silkscreen primarily for the past decade. My first encounter with Manhattan Graphics Center was at the Washington Street location in 2010. Margaret Nussbaum was my instructor for silkscreen. To this day she remains a trusted mentor. In addition to silkscreen I’ve taken chemigram and paper lithography workshops at the Center.

Like many other artists, I’ve found the communal space of the Graphics Center ideal. It’s so nurturing that I think of it as a second home. There’s no attitude. Just open possibilities to grow in a highly supportive environment. The friends and colleagues I rub shoulders with everyday are highly accomplished artists in their own right from so many different backgrounds and pursuits. It’s a wonderful way to discover new techniques and workarounds. Things I’d never get on my own. (Any serious printmaker would do well to work here. And for younger artists this place is a gold mine.) The Center is a true rarity in the heart of Manhattan and for me, personally, it has proven to be a real gift.

Follow on Instagram @jjudg