Judd Schiffman (b. 1982) is a Providence, Rhode Island based artist working primarily in ceramics. He has lectured at Harvard University Ceramics and Brown University, and participated in residencies at the Zentrum Fur Keramiks in Berlin, Germany and Arch Contemporary in Tiverton, Rhode Island. Schiffman received his MFA from the University of Colorado in 2015, and his BA from Prescott College in 2007. Schiffman’s work has been exhibited throughout the United States, most recently at 1969 Gallery in NYC and Inman Gallery in Houston, TX. In 2016, he received an emerging artists award from the National Council for the Education of Ceramic Arts. Schiffman is currently the Visiting Assistant Professor of Ceramics at Providence College.
Using clay as a drawing material, my ceramic wall sculptures are a psychedelic concoction of lived and imagined experiences that ponder the power of our personal stories. As social and political tensions continue to build in the world, there seems to be little room for compromise as we all become more identified with our own story of how things should be. Through exploring personal narrative, my work seeks to look beyond the story in order to find the space where collaboration can happen. The framed narratives open up a common ground where the viewer can enter into dialogue as a participant among the characters, objects, and landscapes.
The content and process of my studio work is informed by my life with my three year-old daughter, Franny and wife, Athena. As we navigate children’s stories, YouTube cartoons, songs, and art history books together, we discover and collaborate on images that I then refine and make out of clay. Utilizing the objects and images that Franny gravitates towards, the textiles Athena makes, and other powerful relics, narratives are composed reflecting the inner life of the contemporary family, rites of passage, and grappling with the complexities of being a father. My work explores themes of masculinity, discovery of self, sexuality, and family, and all the nuanced guilt, confusion, and elation that exist in tandem. Along with relics found in my own domestic environment, depictions of animals in museum collections have become the ideal actors in this drama.
Being a father, I am in the midst of one of the most significant transitions of my life, and my work over the past three years expresses the complexity of the patriarchal, nuclear family system I find myself in, as well as the tenderness and energy I receive through my new family. Raising a young child at its best is a collaborative experience, and my work follows suit. Ideas of authorship and the role of the individual artist are challenged as I copy and skew historical images and objects, and then invite my wife and artist friends into my studio to arrange and re-arrange the installation.