Judith Ann Braun
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“Make your work because you want to make it, see it, figure things out about it, and share it, show it…but don’t think about the “market” and sales. Make make make, show show show….the rest is not your affair." -- Judith Ann Braun
Former 60's agit-feminist and resident New York arts-scene bad girl Judith Ann Braun once changed her then-married name from Weinman to Weinperson; an act she describes as "a wry gesture to political correctness" through which she introduced her "Weinpersona" to the world. And what a persona it is. In a career spanning more than three decades, Braun has morphed from a renegade downtown controversy-as-art pot stirrer,whose radical installations and painting managed to anger everyone from liberal feminists to the conservative religious right, into a settled, even meditative, devotee of ordered and symmetrical charcoal drawing.
It is in this most recent incarnation as a charcoal and graphite artist that Braun has relaxed into her creative stride and, indeed, has found a deep well of physical and psychic inspiration from which to draw. Adhering to three "rules" in all of her drawings - all must utilize symmetry, abstraction, and a carbon medium in their execution - Braun says she's found a kind of freedom through having parameters within which she must work. "Working within constraints prompts a proliferation of possibilities that self-organize into groups and subgroups, I then choose some to render carefully by hand," Braun recently said in an introduction to her solo show May I Draw (part of her ongoing series Symmetrical Procedure) at Joe Sheftel Gallery in New York
In Symmetrical Procedure, and especially in a series of site specific large scale wall drawings she calls Fingerings, Braun draws upon a very real physiological connection to the carbon mediums of charcoal and graphite. Dipping her finger tips in the medium to form and shade her symmetrical abstractions in Fingerings, and working entirely with her fingertips, she creates the abstraction on her surface through movement of her body and the range of motion in her arms; a carbon life form connecting directly to carbon and manifesting an entirely new creation. The limitations of a black and white medium again offering possibility through constraint.
"I like the black and white," Braun says in a video interview for her exhibition at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. "I like the fact that its just black and white and yet it's infinite possibilities. I mean you could have paint just black and white too, but black and white carbon medium it's, carbon is, you know, the essential material of most of life in the universe. And I like using it for that reason."
You can watch the full IMA interview here and watch Braun at work on Diamond Dust, a Fingering for the Chrysler Museum of Art here.