Through painting, Judith Glantzman wants to ‘find a language to talk about social injustice’

Judith Glantzman is not interested in generalizations.

The painter, who will speak at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 17, in the Hultquist Center as part of the Visual Arts Lecture Series, wants to “make that general thing in the news into the particular,” she said.

In her lecture, Glantzman will discuss how her creative process has evolved during her career as an artist. News coverage over the last two years, and the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, have motivated her to craft politically charged work — primarily focused on police shootings of young black men.

“How can I speak about race without feeling like I’m co-opting another person’s experience?” Glantzman said. “For artists, we can take things in, but then we sift them through our own filter and our own experience.”

Glantzman visited Chautauqua in 2016 to deliver a lecture on her creative process. She cited a quote from George Inness she said exemplifies her own work: “Beauty depends on the unseen, the visible upon the invisible.”

Although Glantzman primarily works as a painter, she has also experimented with writing. For her 2016 lecture, she told the Daily her work is a “cross-pollination” of different media, including the written word.

“For me, writing, it’s embarrassing because it seems corny and also because it reveals myself a lot,” Glantzman said in 2016. “But I’m pushing myself to go ahead and do that anyway. And so what if it’s corny and so what if it’s reminiscent of other artists? I just have to allow the work to flourish. To not control or limit what the work is.”

Glantzman has taught at Chautauqua’s School of Art several times. She landed the initial position in 1989 by chance because her application coincided with someone dropping out of the program, and worked there until 1992. Glantzman returned from 2000 to 2005 and again in 2012.

She has also taught at Parsons School of Design, the New York Studio School and currently works at the Rhode Island School of Design.

“The thing about teaching is, in my ways, it has taught me about my own work,” Glantzman said. “My whole thing of teaching is how to help someone develop their own creative process, and you can help them get the muscles and encourage them.”

All her students, Glantzman said, have something to say, and she considers an important part of her job helping them with “the language of how to say it.”

Glantzman lives in New York City, but she spent the winter of 2017 in a residency at Dartmouth College, which she called “totally immersive” and “the most fantastic experience.”

Glantzman was snowed in during her winter residency; she reveled in the peaceful contrast from New York.

“I very much simplified my language,” Glantzman said. “I make big images, but they’re very quiet.”

For two years now, Glantzman has focused on“trying to find a language to talk about social injustice” through painting, she said.

Part of her body of work Glantzman will discuss at her lecture is a series of paintings on plaster that depict black people who have been killed by police. Glantzman said while at the beginning of her career she sought inspiration internally, she now seeks it more often in the world around her.

“The names keep coming up,” Glantzman said. “So part of my desire was to make visual images. … These people are not just names. They have faces.”

Those faces, she pointed out, are often broadcasted on the news in the form of selfies, which Glantzman said have “a quality of optimism and beauty.”

“I just suddenly felt like I do one thing, which is to make images,” Glantzman said. “And I can, through my artistic practice, bring somebody’s face back into this picture and bring beauty back into it.”

Tags : Hultquist CenterJudith GlantzmanVisual Arts Lecture Series

The author Kirby Davis

Kirby Davis covers visual arts for The Chautauquan Daily. The proud Clevelander is a rising senior and a journalism/American studies double major at Miami University in Ohio. When she’s not writing, Kirby is probably watching a movie, re-watching “Gilmore Girls” or brainstorming potential names for her future pet corgi.