Get Lucky: Amulets and Ketubah Art by Judith Joseph
The Jewish Art Salon and the Kraft Center present: Get Lucky: Amulets and Ketubah Art by Judith Joseph Columbia / Barnard Kraft Center 606 West 115 Street, New York, NY 10025 April 18 - May 21, 2013 Opening Reception April 18, 6-8 pm Panel Discussion at 7 pm:
Still, Small Voice in a Noisy World: Jewish Heritage and Contemporary Art.
Panelists: Judith Joseph, Isaac Peterson and Alison Kruvant, artists. Moderated by Buzz Slutzky, artist & program assistant at the Tisch Gallery at the JCC Manhattan.
“Sometimes I think my paintings are children’s book illustrations that have wandered into a grown-up place.”
The art of Judith Joseph springs from illuminated manuscripts: decorated, hand-written texts. She loves miniature medieval illustrations with their quirky, often bizarre imagery that ranges from holy inspiration to bawdy violence. Her love of letters encompasses both their calligraphic form and the story they tell.
She started making ketubahs (hand-written, decorated Jewish marriage contracts) at the age of 17, beginning a journey with this art form that has lasted decades and produced some 500 commissioned, original works. She has grown up with the ketubah, and it has grown with her.
Judith’s paintings often contain Hebrew lettering. Her series of hamsa (amulet) paintings began when she painted one for each of her three adult sons, when they moved far from home. She used unstretched canvas, so the paintings could be easily rolled and transported from place to place. She used thehamsa symbol: a hand blocking the evil eye, an ancient image found in Mediterranean countries. The hamsa is often worn during childbirth.
Judith believes in the power of images as a way to focus our intent and will, and the power of words to guide us. Each hamsa image is encircled with a ribbon containing Hebrew inscriptions of the names of archangels (Michael, Raphael, Yuriel, Uzziel, Ezriel, etc.) The letters create a dynamic, dancing border, stand-ins for human beings, as we are expected to create a “fence around the Torah.” (Pirke Avot, 1.1)
Judith Joseph is a painter and calligrapher with commissioned works in hundreds of private and public collections. Her specialty is the Ketubah (Hebrew illuminated marriage contract, an illustrated calligraphic work used in Jewish weddings). Judith works in egg tempera, watercolor and acrylic. In addition to her calligraphy and illustration commissions, she creates and exhibits paintings and installation works. She is a published illustrator and a two-time recipient of the Illinois Arts Council Artists’ Fellowship Award. She is a painting instructor at the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Art Center, Highland Park.