I was afraid and did not know how to talk of racism in my work. I have been trying to find the language to address racism, to not turn away. I wanted to slow down and paint the individual person, rather than simply watching a news report of yet another black person killed by police. The portraits allowed me to pay attention, to keep track. The portraits are painted on a slab made of acrylic and plaster. They are the size of a tablet or a large cell phone. I understand it is impossible to capture a person from an image on the Internet. Hoping to give more than I take, I try to honor the dead, with beauty, and a tender touch.
During the pandemic, I have been painting from obituaries. Like the portraits of African Americans killed by police, the Corona Obituary portraits are painted on tomb-like plaques, and allow me to look at the people who have died rather than depersonalizing them as a number.
The Black History Flash Cards, bought on the Internet, are a selection of African American heroes, black activists. I paint those heroes over and over, learning from and deferring to the cards, acknowledging my limited knowledge. What do direct and indirect experiences look like? I make large drawings with portraits of Michelle and Barack Obama, myself, my friend Dawn Clements, using the same language as the work from the Black History Flash Cards. Bones, paintings of my eye and vines of flowers, wrap around the repeated portraits like fecund decay. The portraits and the vines frame a seemingly empty center, like a window making light visible. The paintings frame unquantifiable feelings, reacting to the violence and injustice, the outrage and sadness - and my place in it.
Lewis Payton Jr., is an author, who wrote the catalogue essay, From Racism to Art(ism), for my exhibition at Dartmouth College in 2018. Payton wrote a story, Ritual, and I asked if we could collaborate. I chose words with my eyes closed, pointing blindly on the text. The collaboration continued. Payton wrote poems to my paintings and I, in turn, made two drawings to his poem, "When I Dream". The first stanza of the poem is below and the whole poem can be found in Payton's collection of poetry at the bottom of the Viewing Room.
Judy Glantzman graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1978. She began exhibiting in the early 1980’s as part of the East Village art scene, at Civilian Warfare and Gracie Mansion. She followed with shows at BlumHelman and Hirschl & Adler Modern in the 1990’s and at Betty Cuningham Gallery, where she has shown for the past 16 years. She had a 30 year retrospective at Dactyl Foundation in spring 2009 and in 2018, a solo exhibition titled Vigilant On Behalf of Kindness at Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH.
The artist’s work can be seen in numerous public collections, including the Whitney Art Museum, New York, NY; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC; Grey Art Gallery, New York, NY; Hood Museum of Art, Hanover, NH; and the Frye Art Museum, Seattle, WA, among others. She has been the recipient of numerous awards and grants, most notably the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, 2001; the Anonymous Was a Woman Foundation Grant, 1997; the New York Foundation for the Arts Grant, 1994; the Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant, 1992; and Dartmouth College Artist-in-Residence, 2018. Glantzman lives and works in New York, NY.