Judy Southerland



“Opposites are not necessarily either/or but rather might be both/and. The opposite of a shallow truth is a falsehood—the opposite of a profound truth is another profound truth.” Neils Bohr, physicist


A desire to work with larger themes required a change in point of view. I turned my eye in and pulled myself way out for the overview, as opposed to observing up close, and in these paintings, stripes, blocks and spheres are the distillation of previous highly articulated images.


The stripes were inspired by fields observed from an plane flying over Northern Ireland, and by my knowledge from childhood of those plowed patterns. The grid was inspired by Belfast in N I, and the first city I knew, Birmingham, AL. I took careful color notes on local hues in stone, brick and paint, and on the light and it's companion darkness. The paintings felt static until I exploited crossed forms and introduced an array of animating spheres. I realized the pictures reference gender in straight and curved line and carry a union of opposites including desire and restraint; random events and focused effort.


Each painting ends with quick gestures on the diagonal--one black and curly, the other white and straight--simple cultural signifiers for hair that cross boundaries and transgress the space. I meditate before doing this and use a combination of oil and melted wax, first one color, then the other, slung as hot liquid which freezes on contact with the air. The move forms an X by counter balancing the structural diagonal of light and shade. 


Text below by Carina Evangelista, curator, Delaware Center for Contemporary Art on my tryptich, In/Out of Place:


"The precision that screenprinting demands can sometimes render images static but there is a surprising energy in these hand-pulled screenprints. Southerland combines the distilled forms of abstraction that in the play of shapes and color animate the canvas with figuration that captures the intimate. the artist likens the tension between slow build and the explosive gesture to the mysteries of the universe: the passing of time, coming into being, and the fading away of things and lives--how people “plowed ground, made quilts, repaired bad roads, made music, had fights, had babies, looked at the stars and buried the dead.” Remarking at the paradox of this amazing variety and vapid repetition, she finds the most interesting moments to be “the space in between” -  that furtive glance that channels the power of divergent yet very real points of view such as “looking at the stars and down at your feet.”  



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