We had the good fortune of connecting with Judith Carlin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Judith, can you share a quote or affirmation with us?
“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” ― César A. Cruz
When I started painting I realized that although I love and appreciate art where the main goal is beauty it was not my goal. I wanted my art to have an impact on the world, to inform, reflect, and evoke strong emotions. It was my desire and need to show how the world affects people and how people affect the world. This quote by César A. Cruz, the Mexican poet and human rights advocate, resonates deeply with me. It confirmed that my desire to shake things up and bring light to certain issues in the world was alright. It made me realize that some people might find my work beautiful and some might find my work ugly and disturbing and that’s alright too.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Something I always say is that I’m a big believer in the power of art. Exploring the human condition, our stories, and how we treat each other is my continual theme. I currently live in Miami, Florida which I love because it’s a very international and multicultural, crazy, wild, friendly city which is changing and growing. It’s a boom town and that’s very exciting and inspirational. My paintings are expressionistic and representational rather than realistic and are always very narrative. I visually want to address certain issues and create conversations. Many times, people ask me why I paint disturbing themes with such bright colors. I do this because the world is loud and loud represents bright colors to me. Bright color also represents hope and no matter how disturbing one of my paintings might be I want there to be a message of hope even it’s more subliminal than obvious. The business of the art world is certainly not easy and I’d like to be more savvy about it. This is a big challenge for me. I rather just paint but realize it’s a challenge I have to work on. Maybe I should think of it as an opportunity rather than a challenge. My approach right now is to study and approach specific markets, curators and exhibits which are like-minded. Selling is always nice but it’s not my main goal. It’s more important that my paintings affect people. It’s my hope that my work stays in the public eye and lives on after me.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Miami has so much to offer. If a dear friend were visiting, I would show them Downtown Miami where I live and take them on a walk through the neighborhood. Not only would we enjoy the bay and the boats but I would make sure that walk included Bayside Marketplace which is great people watching, the Perez Museum and Freedom Tower. Perez Museum also has a lovely indoor and outdoor cafe. Other favorite spots for a bite in downtown include La Muse Cafe, Miami Diner and Eternity Coffee. In Little Havana, which is historically a Cuban exile neighborhood (and it’s fabulous). We would eat at my favorite restaurant there, Versailles. The main street, Calle Ocho is lined with art galleries, boutiques and restaurants. Little Haiti is overflowing with murals filled with symbolism and history. Talking about murals, I would not let my friend miss seeing Wynwood where there are edgy murals painted by artists from all over the world. Wynwood Walls is a must see and Panther Coffee is a great stop for coffee, tea and snacks. Then there is the Design District. It’s filled with public art and world class shopping with the most stunning window displays. MIA Market in the Design District is a beautiful gourmet food court and I always enjoy eating there. After that, onward to the de la Cruz Collection and ICA Miami. In Miami Beach, we would go not only to the beach but to the Holocaust Memorial. We would explore all the art deco hotels in the South Beach neighborhood, walk down Lincoln Road which is full of cafes and stores and art, and then eat at the The Betsey which is a magical place. Of course, I would not let my friend go home before going on a boat ride through the Everglades, a trip to the Rubell Musuem in the Allapattah neighborhood and a walk through Brickell, Miami’s financial center and home of Dolores But You Can Call Me Lolita, which has the most wonderful rooftop restaurant.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are several groups that have had a major influence on me. Violence Transformed, which is based in Boston, produces art exhibits that celebrate the power of art to confront, challenge and mediate violence. They also have artists and activists led workshops for people impacted by violence and the risk of violence. Showing with them has been transformational for me. Mary Harvey, the Founding Director is one of my role models. She’s also an incredible artist and curator. The National Association of Women Artists has been so supportive of my art and me. I’ve exhibited with them throughout the country and through them I have met many incredible women artists. Susan G. Hammond, former Executive Director, current Board of Directors, liaison for all the chapters and phenomenal artist in her own right has been a constant in my art career. I can always count on her as an advisor, sounding board and friend. Embracing Our Differences, based in Sarasota, Florida. Every year they have an international public art exhibit of giant murals celebrating diversity, kindness and inclusiveness in Sarasota’s Bayfront Park. I’m been honored to have shown with them multiple times. Sarah Wertheimer, the Executive Director, is not only supportive and giving but does so much for the Sarasota community. She is an unstoppable force of nature.