Artist of the Week: Laura Judkis

Laura Judkis was born in New Jersey in 1989. She graduated from MICA in 2011, and lives and works in Baltimore, MD.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. My name is Laura Judkis, I’m 25 years old, and I grew up in NJ, nearish to the shore. I lived in the same house until I was eighteen, when I went to art school in Baltimore. I’m an artist, but the way I go about it keeps changing. I think it’s in the midst of a change right now.

How has living in Baltimore affected your art practice? Quite a lot, I think. I don’t know if I would have been able to work the way I’ve been working anywhere else. My first real non-student studio was in a garage under a group living situation and gallery called Open Space, where I moved right after graduating. I could spend whole mornings just wandering around picking up materials in my neighborhood or dicking around at the Johns Hopkins library drinking coffee and flipping through art books if I wanted to. I’ve been able to take my time.

The art scene is small, but you get the feeling it could branch out and start replicating at any moment. Franklin Street has been one interesting spot as of late. I feel like I’m incubating myself and my work and essentially my personhood while I live here. It’s become very cozy, but every time a non-art friend visits I start feeling like I live in a weird parallel universe.

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What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? Kink and politics, for sure, even though they come through the art indirectly. I want to work on detangling my relationship to sex and power, and I want to learn more history, because I tend to feel trapped in my point of view.

A lot of my work is about personally processing or absorbing negativity in one way or another. Trying to transform it into growth or strength or love or something like that. I’m trying to understand fear and pain, because I can be very fearful at times. I guess what I want is a way to experience any necessary pain in my own life with minimal fear, and to stop being afraid of people who suffer in ways that I don’t.

I’m a pretty happy person, actually, though it might not sound like it.

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What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I just did a group show called xXx with James Bouché and Colin Schappi at Current Space in Baltimore. We built a white cube dungeon full of sculpture. It was pretty cool.

I’ve been trying to make sculptures from casts of my body for a few months now. As objects they’re okay, but I think I’d like to burn them outside somewhere, like effigies, and see how that feels.

Tell us about your work process and how it develops. I worry about it less than I used to. I used to be deeply suspicious of conceptual art, which is funny because a lot of my favorite artists now are not particularly painterly. I think that that’s because of the relationship I had with thinking. I tried to use thought as a weapon on myself, basically, to force action. So in school I found this very physical way of making, where I was tearing things up and breaking them and splashing paint all over them. It was freeing for a while, but the more conscious I became of what painting was replacing in the rest of my life, the less I needed to make art that way. So, yeah I’m at a weird sort of crossroads. I don’t want to just make stuff alone in a room any more—I want to put my actual life, as I live it, to more use. But I don’t know what that looks like for me in terms of art.

ljk_2014_0024What do you want a viewer to walk away with after seeing your work? First I have to get myself to a new place, to break down some internal boundary. If I can’t do that for myself first, and do it for real, how can I ask anyone else to care about my experience? After that, I don’t know exactly. Some kind of bodily awareness at least. A sense of the body as violable. I have preachy tendencies, but they don’t get me where I want to go, so I try not to indulge them too much.

What were you like in high school? I liked Lord of the Rings and classic rock and I went to youth group. Really I was about the same, but much less sure of myself.

ljk_2014_0034What are you reading right now? I just finished The Crying of Lot 49 and started The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Everyone Talks About the Weather…We Don’t is on the backburner.

What artists are you interested in right now? I’ve been meaning to visit Vector Gallery, the official art gallery of Satan, for quite awhile now, but I haven’t made it up to NYC. I’m into Willa Nasatir’s photos, and Nicole Dyer did a show in Baltimore recently that I liked. I’m psyched about a witchy feminist magazine I just bought called Girls Against God.

As far as art heroes are concerned, I think about Agnes Martin a lot, even though I don’t like looking at her paintings unless I’m in a very specific mood. She made interesting life choices and I respect her thinking and writing. Chris Burden, David Hammons, Paul Thek, Martin Puryear, Lucas Samaras, Sopheap Pich, AA Bronson. Robert Mapplethorpe and Nancy Grossman because duh.

mud_72Top 3 favorite or most visited websites and why? There’s only one that I really want to share, which is www.maybemaimed.com, though it seems to have been taken down in the past couple of days. There’s a particular post called Consent as a Felt Sense that I thought was super interesting. It talks about the experience of consent in the context of sex/rape culture, but I think the basic ideas apply to pretty much any experience a person can have with other people.

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