"Judith Levy’s Harrison Center studio is located in an unusual place: at a stairwell landing between the first and second floors. Large stained-glass windows filter colorful light into the space. Her framed pieces are arranged on the walls; below them are a drafting table, a bookshelf filled with artist’s materials and a tall storage bin of her works.
This is a station for her, a place to be, a mix between a studio and a gallery. But this isn’t Levy’s only workspace; she has another studio in the basement of her house near Broad Ripple.
The work Levy has been creating in these two spaces the past few years pushes complex themes through narrative vignettes. Levy’s figures have appeared in various dimensions, from a few inches to a few feet, and have been shown in galleries, a storefront and on billboards.
When she moved to Indianapolis nearly four years ago, Levy had already started to pare down her images and reduce the component of color in her work. By painting and drawing in only a few colors, she distilled her images so that the illustrative qualities came to the foreground.
“I was thinking about the nature of sign-making, billboards, simple imagery, and the most pared-down way of communicating,” Levy explained. “So that is how I came to the black and white line drawings. They seemed to have a certain kind of power that came from the simplicity.”
By expanding and enlarging her linear images — sometimes meticulously experimenting on copy machines at Kinkos — Levy has blurred not only the role of her hand, but the line itself; the image and line have at once become more simple and complex.
“I really do spend a lot of time figuring out the space in my work, even though the nature of the compositions seems somewhat spare. I pay a lot of attention to the size of the figures, to placement. I work out foreground and background spaces. In my work I draw and redraw a lot to get the gestures just right.”
Her most recent show, Girls Brigade, included works made on polyester fabric flags, Cintra panels and wood panels primed with gesso and painted with Flashe, a vinyl-based paint film. In the works using Flashe, Levy has more clearly defined the space in which the figures reside with thick, horizontal bands of vibrant color. The girls, with their white garments and bright red boots dance, clap, fight, celebrate, swim and fly.
On view now at the Old Washington Street Bridge at White River State Park is a Levy installation called “Wonder,” a group of young men and boys made of Dibond and wood that are “looking at the world around them.” While Levy has created other installations, this one is different than her other works in that the figures are not confined by any frame (no edge of paper or vinyl, ceiling in a building or some interim frame) but rather exist in the same space as the viewer.
For more on Levy: www.judithglevy.com.