Visual Arts

Jim Walker

Harrison Center artist Judith Levy will soon be part of a group show at the NavtaSchulz Gallery in Chicago's West Loop arts district.

Two years after moving here from Minneapolis, Harrison Center artist Judith Levy has drawn her unique mark on Indianapolis. Now she's working on Chicago.

Levy, whose work is currently showing in the IDADA members show at Stutz Gallery, will soon be part of a group show at the NavtaSchulz Gallery in Chicago's West Loop arts district. The gallery's owners recently visited the Harrison Center and chose to represent Levy as well as collage artist Kipp Normand and painter Artur Silva. All will participate in the Feb. 17 show.

Levy's work is filled with blank-faced children and curiously juxtaposed people-and-animal combinations. Her latest series, called "What Have We Here," is a sublime combination of the childishly surreal and the darkly adult. Sometimes, these pieces are dirty jokes that speak volumes about the human condition. Sometimes, they are deeply personal images. Sometimes, the pictures are full of overt social commentary. All are striking, bold and dynamic.

"I think I'm very serious really. But it's very important to me to find a place that I can communicate about some of that stuff without making it polemic or overbearing. I have fun," said Levy, who practiced as a psychotherapist before becoming a full-time artist. "In the work, I address the conflicts, the tensions, the pleasures. Some of them very primary kinds of things. The darker side, of course, interests me because it's part of human experience. I don't avoid anything. There's no place that I censor."

Still, her work doesn't glorify or cast specific judgments on that dark side. She leaves that job to the viewer. "You can see expression but it's a limited amount of expression. It's sort of the bare bones of it. And I'm very interested in that place. I'd like the viewer to enter into that place as they're looking at the work and not necessarily be sure what it's all about," she said. "Sometimes those places are uncomfortable. Maybe, often they are."

Levy, who works in a variety of mediums, is currently drawing on paper with much of the work then transferred to large, white sign material. Each piece, though, is one-of-a-kind. "I like thinking about making work on material that is not usually used and is a kind of juxtaposition," she said. "Drawing like this is really the most intimate gesture the artist can make. And I've accentuated that in these pieces. I've pared down that line. But it's still very much my hand. There it is, that sort of intimate line about intimate subject matter on material that is not generally thought of as representing that kind of content."

She'll be taking this concept to an even larger scale in May and June this year as her work will be featured as part of the Your Art Here billboard series on Massachusetts Avenue.

After looking at Levy's work - which really exists in the realms of the psychological and physical versus the emotional or logical - her background as a psychotherapist comes as no surprise. "One of the benefits to me in having done so much psychotherapy is that process is a very spontaneous process," she said. "It's exciting because you listen to what people have to say and you have to construct and create in the moment."

Now, she takes that approach to making her art. "Inspiration comes from lots of places. I read, I look, I travel to see art," she said. "But I'm inspired when I'm in Lowe's. There are so many small, idiosyncratic ways that supply ideas and notions about making something."


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