JUDITH UNGER, AN ARTIST'S LIFE
"Unique, One of a Kind Sculpture Celebrating Strong Women"
I earned a Sculpture Degree at RISD during the late 60's. An exciting groundbreaking time for the arts. David Macaulay, illustrator of numerous books including "How Things Work" was studying illustration at RISD. World renown glass artist Dale Chihuly, worked in the studio next to mine. He started blowing glass , experimenting with blowing glass pieces larger than himself until they shattered into pieces on the concrete floor! I experimented with resins and fiberglass, all new to the art world.
I learned to cast bronze and aluminum with lost wax molds of my sculpture. At that time everyone kept their "Investment Molds" recipes secret (the molds used around the original wax sculpture). The wax was slowly burned out before pouring metal into it) . My Dad was a dentist and he knew about dental plaster, the most detailed plaster, unknown to most sculptors. So I used it and my fingerprints embedded in the modelling of the original wax sculpture were seen in detail in the final bronze castings!
Sculptor Gilbert Franklin was one of my mentors. While I was at RISD, he was the head of the Sculpture Department, no longer a teacher. He wore a suit and tie instead of the studio sculptor's blue work shirt. One day he stopped short in my studio. I was working on a large 12-15 ft sculpture, similar to his bronzes. Astonishing everyone, he neatly removed his coat and tie and rolled up his white shirt sleeves in my dusty studio. Hands on, he showed me how to work my piece. He and my mother went to RISD together!
One day in the RISD Foundry, I was on one end of a long crucible holder wearing a full protective bodysuit, gloves,mask. My long hair held up inside a protective helmet. We steadied a hundred pound crucible full of molten 1700 degree Bronze to pour into my lost wax mold. Excess molten bronze pooled on the floor. After the pour, I lifted off my helmet, my long hair cascading down. A group of touring patrons let out a collective loud gasp.
My mother, a painter, encouraged me to draw at a young age. We'd ride the train weekly from Connecticut to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I memorized whole rooms of paintings! I remember looking up from my small height overwhelmed in a room overflowing with Monet waterlilies. It was a whole new world for a small child.
As a teenager, in the early 1960's I frequently drove my parents' car to Greenwich Village. Amazing musicians in intimate clubs ( Dave Van Ronk stepped on my foot!), underground films and filmmakers like Robert Downey Sr., and Warhol and the Electric Circus. Later Warhol came to RISD ,while I studied there, to show his films and talk.
After graduating RISD I headed far Northeast. Enduring a night time seasick 12-14 hour ferry ride,laying still on the ferry's bow all the way to distant Newfoundland. Newfoundlanders considered everyone not from Newfoundland, "Mainlanders". Their closest ties are to Scotland and their "Newfie" brogue expresses it. I became friendly with the Art Department Staff at Memorial College where I showed my sculpture. Much of it was based off the brutal clubbing of mother seals in front of their cubs for their fur in the Spring.
My current "Swan Maiden" sculpture series is an offshoot of the Scottish Newfoundland "Selkies" mythological folklore. Selkies are said to live as seals in the sea but shed their skin to become human on land.
My "Swan Maiden" Sculptures Series (22K GOLD) embraces Mythological Images. Images of the spirit. Themes that supported human life, built civilizations, and informed religions over the millennia. A story still relevant in our own lives.
Recently I donated a sculpture to the Rush Foundation auction to benefit Art for inner city children via Charity Buzz. My sculpture was one of the top lots sold.Bruce Springsteen, NY Yankees, Bill Maher, Julienne Moore ... were some of the other lots offered. https://www.charitybuzz.com/…/ballerina-one-of-kind-ceramic…
My Swan Maiden sculpture showcased at the YAI Benefit Gala, Chelsea Piers, Manhattan to benefit art for the disabled.
My sculpture (is) has been shown in galleries including the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute, Dacia Gallery NYC, Galatea Fine Arts Boston Juried by Edmund Barry Gaither (Advisory Curator at MFA), Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition Juried by Marshall Price (Curator at National Academy Museum) & Paulina Pobocha (Curator MoMA), THE MORA Museum.
VENICE, ITALY. VENEZIA MY MUSE
We rent an apartmento every Spring in Venice for a month. Venezia overflowing my creativity. I draw for 2-3 hours daily and still need tol release more of my creativity so I can sleep at night! I compose massive journals to also capture Venezia's brilliant magic. Back in my Vermont studio I burst with creative energy throughout the year.
FROM MY VENICE JOURNALS:
"Venetian color and light so breathtaking. Gilded light on land,sky and water, a painter would need a new vocabulary of paints. My eyes fill with tears of joy every morning."
" We stood applauding from the ornate golden Royal box centered in La Fenice Opera House. A wide private staircase sweeps up to the velvet and golden mirrored box overlooking a central inner view of the magnificent theater below.
Mario Brunello, cello in hand conducts the symphony orchestra with his bow.
He plays his cello exquisitely in an arena of complete silence. I hear the sounds of a flute and harp come from his cello. Marvelous.
We stand and applaud. I loudly yell "Bravo" and "Squisito".
I am told his mother sits next to us. She beams up at me as I smile at her and say " Congratulazione, your son is wonderful" in Italian.
She glances at my drawing pad and says I draw beautifully like Da Vinci. I laugh a loud laugh."
"Torcello Island,60 minute boat ride in the Venetian Lagoon. I draw at the archaeological and medieval museum. And we dine at Locanda Cipriani, preferred by the British Royalty ( Queen Elisabeth II ) and Elton John. Hemingway stayed at the Locanda , the whole month of November 1948, duck hunting and writing his novel "Across the River and Into the Trees" Dining alongside the Locanda's hearth."
"Off to the museum and gardens of Castle Sforzesco in Milan to view the Leonardo frescoes. Of course the frescoes were closed due to repairs. Gorgeous museum. The guards all gather to watch me draw. Who's watching the museum?"
"Organ concerts at St Giorgio, across the Gran Canale from St. Marco. I draw and the priest removes the ornate rope from the inner sanctum to offer me a seat on one of the ornate altar chairs. It amazes me the Venetians have so much awe and appreciation for new art, "disegno classico", classical drawing. They continually applaud my drawings."
"Drawing at the Fondazione Querini Stampalia Palace, I discover some of the best paintings in Venice. The guard looks at my drawing and says,"It's .....................so beautiful" Then offers coffee, trying to lengthen my visit".
Venezia my Muse in my eyes, hands and soul.
Director of IMAGINE THE ART OF JOHN LENNON, Maureen McCarthy : "Remarkable stoneware clay sculpture by Judith Unger whose work has been exhibited widely in the US. Among the commissions Judith has received was from President Clinton to design an ornament for the White House Christmas Tree".
Victoria Dickinson, Manager of Distinguished International Professional Visual Artists: "Your sculptures are so vividly 3-D, beautifully colorful, and so intimately feminine. I love them!! Congratulations on your all around artistic, creative excellence!"
Quayes Mohamed Mijarul,Embassy of Bangladesh, Brasilia (Brazil), United Nations International Civil Service Commission (ICSC)Homme de lettres; Ambassador; aficionado of the arts, endorsed Judith Unger's Sculpture: "Brilliant. Can`t wait to see images after these are fired."
His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Mijarul Quayes, is received by The Queen on his appointment, Buckingham Palace, 15 May 2013. The portrait of Her Majesty was presented as a gift to The Queen during the audience.
Featured Artist interview Artsy Shark : https://www.artsyshark.com/…/…/featured-artist-judith-unger/
Interview by Hampton's TV Host, Helen Priomos: http://youtu.be/BedOC6_8dgQ
Georgia Gero featured Judith Unger's Sculpture in the Spring 2016 INdulge Magazine: (Please see attached jpg
Judith Unger's Artist Talk at Dacia Gallery, Manhattan: https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B_sHbZPGmlsYYS10UkxUWFNGRXc