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Judy Rey Wasserman
Artist's Bio (longer version)
Even as a young girl, Judy Rey pondered and questioned what was meant in the Ten Commandments about not creating any graven image. Her teachers in Hebrew schools and rabbis assured her it meant not to bow down to idols. Her Christian and Jewish art teachers in the public schools concurred. Still, people made idols and “worshipped” so many things and ideas in life, such as money, fame and power, which were surely not graven images (although money always has a graven image on coins and paper).
Originally trained as a fine artist at the High School of Music and Art, followed by Hunter College and the Art Student's League, Judy Rey continued her studies in various classes and workshops in NY and CA.
Although she continued painting and studying art off and on, wrestling with various subjects and ideas, she struggled to find an artistic expression that could inspire her way that she had been inspired by great art beginning as a young child. So she moved into dramatic writing as the sphere wherein she could express her creativity and "say something." She has written for television and has a film script currently optioned by three time Oscar nominee, Diane Ladd. Writing for the screen is basically telling pictures, creating visual images with words. She has been an awareness counselor, actress, entertainment journalist, worked in sales, public relations, and has made a life study of comparative religion and spirituality and the human mind.
Still, she always felt she should be painting. But painting what? How? She knew she did not want to be a professional artist unless she could do something "important."
As a girl, when the weather was cold or inclement, her Dad would bring her from Sunday school over to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which was only a short bus ride away. There she was moved by great paintings by especially those by Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Hals, Dali, Picasso, Monet and the Impressionists as well as the religious art from the Middle Ages and that of the Eastern Cultures. Having aunts and uncles and cousins who were Catholic and Protestant, as well as extended family members of all races and many creeds, plus living in a cosmopolitan city and having friends from many groups, it was apparent to Judy Rey that good people could differ in theology but still be righteous. Art from many traditions could have spiritual meaning and inspire everyone. Thus, from her earliest childhood, fine art, Hebrew letters and GD seemed intrinsically intertwined.
In the summer of 2002, Judy Rey's began to ponder the fundamental Judeo-Christian belief that the world is formed from the words of the Lord, represented by the Hebrew letters. Perhaps she could paint using the Hebrew letters for the strokes to convey those letters a the symbols of the most essential wave motions. A step inspired then more by painterly concerns and traditions, especially the Impressionists who strove to paint the light. Cubism,Word Art and Minimalism also led to her new understanding.. The belief that the Hebrew letters comprise the words of GD and are mystically the intrinsic elements of the universe is held by all Christian, Jewish and apparently Muslim theologies.
Judy Rey began painting by copying out the prayers and Biblical texts creating three small paintings of sunsets. Privately, the paintings were shown to some non-Jewish artists who encouraged Judy Rey saying the paintings seemed to move and had a special quality. The Conservative Synagogue of the Hamptons asked her to create a painting for Rosh Hashanah and she had her first one-woman show in that synagogue for Rosh Hashanah 2002 with the new paintings.
The paintings belong to what Judy Rey calls, “UnGraven Image” art, since the images themselves are not drawn or pained but their appearance comes about from the combinations of the letters, intertwined, mixed around and layered over each other. Until this religious art always referred to the subject matter. So, if Rembrandt painted the crucifixion, it was a religious painting but if he solely painted a self portrait is was not, even though his painting of the crucifixion includes a self portrait. In UnGraven Image paintings are a revolutionary movement within religious art because for the first time a painting is a religious painting not based on what is depicted but on how it is depicted. At least Judy Rey hopes it will become a movement as she speaks to artists and groups encouraging them to paint the essences that scientists now say are these string-like wave motions using the Hebrew letters to symbolically represent them.
Judy Rey's painting “Art News Mourns” was accepted to the first juried show she ever entered. She has gone on to several other shows and is a member of the Eastern Suffolk Arts Council and Southampton Artists Association, for which she writes a column, “Gallery View” and is also co-recording secretary. She has participated in the 2004 “Earth Matters” juried show at the Siena Spirituality Center, including giving a well attended uplifting talk (and fund raising event) there on UnGraven Image art and how this new movement she is founding stands at the crossroads of art, Western religion and science. The afternoon included local musical entertainment (recording artist Marianne Megna). Inspiring and fun public talks accompanied by professional level entertainment (various musicians lined up) and a brief non-denominational sing-along is definitely something she would like to repeat at any art show that she participates in, if possible, plus other venues. She has been preparing enough paintings to create a major show of the Genesis: Sunset-Sunrise series and also to produce in-house archival fine art giclees.
Currently, Judy Rey is working on five series of paintings. Basically using acrylics are four series: a spiritual sometimes mystical series is Tree of Life; a life affirming 9/11 NYC series became America, America. an Essence series which, like her logo/signature, uses the letters of a noun make up a picture of the person or thing; and of course the Genesis : Sunrise/Sunset, series, which uses the words of Genesis I-II:7 for the landscapes depicted. A new series, “Written on the Wind” inspired by the tsunami of '04 depicts animals, primarily using water color pencils, since most free roaming animals escaped the tragedy, somehow knowing to head for higher ground.
Finally, and intimately, as a young teenager into young adulthood, Judy Rey experienced a chaotic and sometimes frightening personal life while also experiencing all of the challenge, hope and exhilarations of being young. Museums were safe and warm and free to students. So at least weekly but more often tri-weekly, young Judy Rey made a pilgrimage to MoMA or the Met, always seeking out the Van Gogh's along with her other studies. Vincent Van Gogh's paintings reached across time and she knew that someone else had known the joy and the agony, the hope and despair that she was feeling. It was like touching another soul who knew someone she knew and loved, someone really important, but who also understood all her turbulent opposing feelings. More than any other resource or help those paintings inspired and keep a young woman going and it has to be noted that Van Gogh was also a minister and frankly, in this instance he had a young Jewish “parishioner.” And through Van Gogh's work she experienced the blessing of art.
That kind of art, the kind of work that changes lives and even inspires people to go on and be better and see the world in a new meaningful way is the kind that Judy Rey wanted to create – or none at all. Since every stroke is a Hebrew letter, she signs her paintings with her given Hebrew name of Yehudi Rachel (Judy Rey) and does not use her last name of Wasserman with respect and as a homage, to the incredible painter who only signed his name as “Vincent.”
It took a long time to find her unique artistic path, but now her slogan is, “Changing the way we see the world, one painting at a time.”