Judith G. Levy
I create art that focuses on American public history, popular culture and my own identity. My videos, prints, photographs, performances and installations explore how stories, memories and legacies are created and examine the charged content that exists between the lines. I often blend fiction and fact to illustrate how the threads of individual, cultural and national narratives rely upon fabrication, omission, and mistakes as they become accepted constructs of informal and formal history.

My work uses familiar imagery and recognizable references, appropriation, and commonplace text and objects to create work that examines subjects such as racism, the expansion of the American West, and non-hetero-normative identity. Creating work that is complex but easily accessible is important to me. My work is influenced by my own queerness, by my former experiences as a social worker and community-organizer and by the struggles faced by my immigrant grandparents who had an endless capacity to question authority.

For example, in my Panoramic Postcards series, I use a souvenir format and mimic postcard text to depict aspects of American history and current socio/political challenges. In my Family Memoir project, I reveal information not usually shared in a family album to describe the emotional truth of my extended family. The photographic collages and videos in The World Outside and The Pictures in my Head reflect my childhood and adolescent efforts to find my queer self through watching Noir films on television. In Kissed by Elizabeth Taylor, a performance video, I share stories about self-discovery via tales about Elizabeth Taylor, Elvis Presley and Liberace. My neon work seeks to show how ideas and language/text evolve to more accurately represent an ever-changing world. In Portrait of a Male Platypus/Sex Chromosomes, for example, I represent an accurate description that was once denied by scientists, because it did not fit into their paradigm. In Reversing the Order, I explore the use of pronouns and question the hierarchy of binary descriptors.

To create work that usurps conventional understandings, I frequently use
humor, alternative narratives, the suspension of disbelief, and assemblage to synthesize ideas and layer meaning. I simultaneously debunk established concepts and create new ones, so that they exist to create disturbing junctures that must be negotiated. Creating these upheavals often requires me to mimic the way history is taught, how souvenirs are created, how family stories are shared, and how personas are presented, while at the same time inserting challenges to these narratives that resemble their sources enough to be believed. I’m interested in creating new considerations and provocations, as I ask the audience to re-examine familiar concepts and accounts.