All images from Judy Glantzman’s studio
I always work at home; the pandemic gives me a “time standing still” feeling which I like. I have been painting portraits from obituaries on poured plaster/acrylic plaques since the pandemic began. Once I decided to paint them, it was the most obvious thing that I could do. A tablet, a tomb, a memorial honoring someone I do not know painted as tenderly as I can. These plaster tablets, mostly 4”X5”, allow me to face the pandemic. I was hanging them on my wall, as I made them, but my 23-year-old daughter who is home with us found the wall too sad, so I set them up by my bedside.
Also I am making shadow drawings. A plant or flower casts a shadow and I trace it with watery acrylic, mimicking its color and opacity. The marks resemble clouds, ephemeral and organized; they feel like absence. I repeat these, creating a chain, a garland around the periphery, and combine them with illusionistic flowers (maybe the flower that cast the shadow), or a rendering of a cast brain, or with something emblematic, like my eye. Chance, illusion, and emblem are my visual parts of speech. They form, like a feeling, like a thought, on the tip of my tongue. They feel to me like free fall.
When the Pandemic began, I felt like maybe I’d only see friends remotely for the rest of my life. I went 100% to one extreme. Now I am acclimated to a floaty feeling: waking and sleeping at strange times, and normalizing the quarantine. In the beginning, I wrote that this was our Let Them Eat Cake Moment. I hope it is, but I am afraid that it will be the opposite: more divided, more unjust, more unequal. I hope for the collapse of the “machine” that co-opts art with money. I hope New York returns to a gritty and creative world. For now, I sit with the uncertainty.
I have been working with mourning for the past few years. We are in a collective mourning; for the dead, and for our country.
Judy Glantzman is a New York based artist and former instructor at RISD and the New York Studio School. She has received grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, Anonymous Was a Woman Foundation, and the Pollock Krasner Foundation. She is represented by Betty Cuningham Gallery.