Today we’d like to introduce you to Judith Berk King.
Judith Berk, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I sometimes feel that I’ve lived two lives; both wonderful, but oh-so-different! I’ve ended up as an artist and educator, but I certainly didn’t start out on that path.
Many artists know from the time they are children that they only want to do art. I loved art as much as the next kid, but it was ‘just for fun’. I was much more caught up in science and was obsessed with my microscope and looking at the stars through a telescope (made by my father). I went to university to study biology but ended up switching to sociology. Upon graduation, I realized that I needed to actually make a living and got a job that offered to train me as a financial analyst. For the next 30 years I worked in financial services as an analyst, manager and software designer. It was a great career and included living in New York (twice), Miami, Canada and London (twice), as well as travelling extensively for work.
These 30 years were not a total artistic wasteland. From time to time I would have the opportunity to enroll in a course or would experiment with media on my own. The love was there, but I didn’t look at myself as ‘talented’, so never contemplated anything further.
I was living and working in London when a tutor at Kensington & Chelsea College saw some sculptural work that I was doing in one of their short courses and invited me to join an intensive one-year program at the College. The opportunity to make a major life change had fallen on me from the sky, and I decided to take the risk. Upon completion of the course, I was accepted into an MFA program, which was absolutely transformative. By this time, I realized that techniques can be learned- it is what you choose to do with this knowledge that counts.
My original objective in enrolling in an MFA program was to better myself as an artist, however, I soon realized that I loved the students and the stimulation of a learning environment. The natural next step was to begin two new careers; professional artist and university faculty. Studying, collecting and drawing fossils has recently become a bit of a passion, and I think of some of my artwork as ‘future fossils’. My husband paled when I kidded him that a paleontology degree is next on my agenda!
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I’ve very much come full circle in some ways. My interest in science never waned. Scientific specimens presented by museums in their glass cases and the artistic renderings of previous eras have always fascinated me. As an artist, I focus on the creation and display of curious zoological and botanical structures. The style of the work may be contemporary or recall the work of scientific illustrators of the past, transcending time.
Since the beginning of life on earth, species have undergone a series of mass extinctions. The main themes that I am examining are the Sixth Extinction (which is presently underway) and what might survive and evolve. Unfortunately, thousands of species will vanish due to loss of habitat, rising sea levels and natural causes. My drawings and ceramic work belong to an imagined future, and many of the drawings have short ‘scientific’ stories to go with the images.
I hope that viewers will consider how our effect on the environment will impact future life on this earth and find it interesting to peek into the future at the creatures that might remain.
Do current events, local or global, affect your work and what you are focused on?
The role of art is always evolving, and there is a long tradition of responding to world and political events. What has changed is the amount and scope of information, with virtually instantaneous global communication. Artists are no longer addressing just what concerns them directly, but are able to access a truly global view, and many viewpoints.
The ability to obtain credible research about environmental issues and their impact is at the very core of my art. These issues have local, national and international implications.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
The quickest way to see my artwork is on www.judithberkking.com. I have a studio at the Bakehouse Art Complex, and it is easy to arrange an appointment by emailing me at email@example.com. I have had solo and two-person exhibitions in South Florida, and also participate in group exhibitions. To be notified of these, just email me and I can put you on my newsletter list. My Instagram is @judithberkking.
Of course, the best way to support any artist is through being interested enough in the work to provide exhibition and publication opportunities (thank you, VoyageMIA), or just straight-out buying a piece!
- Website: www.judithberkking.com
- Phone: 305-323-1916
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @judithberkking
Judith Berk King