Judith Joseph

Woodblock prints, egg tempera paintings, multi-media works by artist Judith Joseph

From a very early age, I loved art.  I spent hours drawing, making origami figures, cutting shapes and gluing everything together.  When I was six, I made a drawing as a gift for a teacher who was moving to France.  I recreated a Parisian street scene, complete with cobblestones, a lady selling flowers from a cart and a man with a beret.  My teacher made a bit of a fuss about it to my mom.  I'm sure I learned about Paris from my beloved Madeline books, by Ludwig Bemelmans.  My love of art was tied early to my love of books and illustration.

My mother encouraged my art and brought me all kinds of art supplies.  She took college art history courses when I was in middle school, and amassed a huge library of art books, which she freely shared with me.  Returning home from the lectures, she sat me down with H.W. Janson's History of Art and recounted what she'd heard.  I owe my fascination with medieval icons and my love of illuminated manuscripts to her.  Knowing all about flying buttresses and Corinthian columns did not raise my stock with the kids, but once I reached college, everyone wanted to study with me in art history class.

The twin poles of my childhood home were art and Judaism.  My grandparents were all immigrants from Russia and Poland, and my parents spoke Yiddish as children.  Although my family wasn't particularly observant religiously, my parents shared their love of Jewish culture and history with us.  I learned to read and write Hebrew, and as a teenager combined this interest with art by teaching myself to do Hebrew calligraphy.  At the age of 17, I made my first ketubah (hand-written, illustrated Jewish marriage contract, a traditional folk art.)

I continued to make ketubahs while I earned a B.S. in art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and this practice became a way for me to earn a living as an artist.  Ketubahs are my bread-and-butter, as well as my passion.  My work has expanded to other types of commissioned works, including calligraphy and paintings.

Being a second-generation American and a member of an ancient, but  small minority group, I am keenly aware of art by other "outsiders", and I feel a kinship with Mexican-American and African-American artists, who are well-represented here in Chicago.  I watch closely how they express their culture amidst a diaspora.

Along with my work as a commissioned artist, I have always focused on more personal, expressive work, exhibiting in many group and solo shows.  This website is dedicated to the work I do for me.