Judith A Mistor-Artist Statement
I am originally from Detroit, Michigan, and grew up in the quintessential urban landscape; in the shadows of the factories of the auto industry. Those stark industrial vistas have had a fundamental influence on my development as an artist, and as a result, I find that discarded urban artifacts are my visual vocabulary. I enjoy using meaningless detritus in order to compose meaningful commentary.
Working in three dimensions is natural to me, and clay is an integral part of my process. Additionally, I have always been interested in ready-made and found objects as forms of art. I am inspired by Louise Nevelson, David Smith, Tyree Guyton, Edward Hopper, Medieval iconography, religious symbolism, Primitive/Outsider art, post-industrial ruins, and especially my grandfather, Joe Mistor.
My sculptural assemblages are conceptual works, most often created by combining found objects with molded ceramic vessels. Although I am subverting the genre, the traditional, utilitarian use of clay is loosely preserved. I choose ordinary plastic containers as molds: disposable, consumable, cheap, mass-produced--essentially worthless. There is a transformative process at work when something that was once mass-produced and promptly discarded becomes unique, and thus transcended from its origins. One is then forced to view and re-evaluate these everyday objects in a new, unexpected way. The firing process is also a metamorphosis--I like to think of them as being reincarnated, thus having an element of the sacred. I enjoy the contrasts that arise from this process: mass-produced/unique; man-made/organic; disposable/permanent; worthless/sacred.
My work is not just about the contrasts that arise from a transformative process, however. I reject the commercial art world’s shallow fiscal hypocrisy and I am instead drawn to the examining of what truly has spiritual meaning, as well as how objects may become powerful and sacred. In what ways can we honor an object's history? Should its agency accumulate (or diminish) over time? Is the journey the atonement? Does intrinsic value exist, or is it simply a projection of our own beliefs?
Further, I have always been interested in the concepts of grace, transubstantiation and redemption, as I continually consider what it means for one to be ‘redeemed’. In my view, redemption may only come from an outside source; in other words, it is something bestowed upon and not accomplished. Similarly, grace is a gift--it is not earned through human means.
My work dwells in that sacred space between pursuit of power/agency, and surrender to belief/faith. And, although my visual vocabulary generally remains the same, I am currently pursuing two main avenues. The works entitled 'Strays' represent the collective nameless and disenfranchised. Inherent within that series is the assumption that when individuals gather, they gain power, potency, and agency from their cause and each other. The other series, entitled 'Relics', represents a reinvention of the symbolism of humble, ordinary objects. These works attempt to resurrect, reinvent, and fundamentally redeem that which was discarded. At once worthless yet sacred, they are not unlike ourselves.