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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Better Know a Board Member!

[This is the first in a series of profiles of CBAS Board members.]

Judith with a new 2nd Amendment variation
Judith Serling-Sturm was hoping there would be a book arts community in Cincinnati when planning to move here near the end of 2010, and she was delighted to find CBAS on the Internet. She sent us an email and soon received a welcoming email greeting from member Diane Stemper. We can claim Judith as one of our own from March 2011.

In previous homes in Washington, D.C., and Chicago Judith had been a freelance writer and a working book artist. In the late 1990s in D.C. she apprenticed to a person who owned a business producing handmade blank books. She was intrigued by exposed spine bindings where the effort of holding the content together was structurally important but could also be visually varied and very beautiful. After her apprenticeship Judith began to build her own business, working on special commissions for private clients. Having done substitute teaching, she was soon doing in-school and in-museum workshops using her book-making skills. When she moved to Chicago, she continued to learn more about book structures and became interested in artists' books. She was encouraged in her on-going experimentation with bringing together ideas, materials and techniques by taking courses at Columbia College's Center for Book and Paper Arts and sharing a studio with a painter/print maker. A CAAP grant (Community Arts Assistance Program) enabled her to devote energy to producing her first artist's book about a young boy's adventures at school. And an artist's residency at Blueberry View Artist Retreat in Riverside, Michigan, in the summer of 2010 enabled her to concentrate on a new series of artist's books focusing on Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, each one unique in content and structure.

What is Judith working on now?

Variations on the Amendments series

A Home series, base on interviews she has conducted about the very personal meaning of that word

A Halloween book (to be installed at her studio) that involves using PVA skins and collage among other things

Decorative cases, made from natural elements and found metals, to hold mezuzot

Judith's goal is to work every day at her art. She says her process usually involves trial and error. She throws away a lot in order to refine, refine, refine. What doesn't work still ends up getting her where she wants to be. She is always thinking about a happy marriage of structure and content.

She attends Art4Artists (part of Cincinnati Recreation Commission's offerings) and is working with the Taft Museum's ARC program (Artists Reaching Classrooms).
A studio wall devoted to the Home series
What has she enjoyed most about CBAS?  She values the opportunity to exhibit work in our annual Bookworks exhibition and the forum the gallery walk-throughs provide for listening to her fellow book artists discuss their work. She loves Study Group—a great way to meet those who share her interest, to learn new things and to "refresh" the skills that she may not use regularly. Being part of the group continues to be a great encouragement in her evolution as an artist. She will be leading a Study Group session for the first time in 2015.

What is Judith's role on the CBAS Board?  She heads the Programs Committee. That means she's responsible for a visiting artist or two each year and for lining up a speaker/program for the CBAS Annual Meeting in the spring.
An "Idea Bank" (rocks, twigs, bones, etc.) provides inspiration
Where can you find Judith?  She is usually hosting open house at her studio at the Pendleton Art Center on Final Fridays. It is a visual treat to explore what's there—past and current work plus a list of ideas for future projects. You can also see what inspires her.

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