Author Archives: judysigunick2014

About judysigunick2014

I make art and kimchi.

Donghwa Ode Gallery at ArtAspen

 Caliban2 Caliban, 31″x21″x22″ ceramic, glaze, epoxy, paint, smoke

CALIBAN:    The snake’s rattling sound was spine chilling.   My hiking partner jumped. She might have ended up in my lap if I had one. Walking briskly, our focused conversation had locked us into a state of mindlessness of our surroundings.  Fear intercepted, abruptly suspending our chit chat. It was then that I was, unexpectedly, truly present in the woods, climbing on top of unique and rare bedrock, brilliant morning sunlit on Lake Maratanza, one of the Shawangunk Ridge’s finest glacial lakes. Fear’s trade off was a momentary personal transformation when every tree, flower, thorn, blueberry, puddle, bird and insect was woven into nature’s design. The smells and the sounds underscored the drama, as if I had suddenly become an islander in a Shakespeare play.

William Shakespeare’s ,The Tempest, is set on an island where the entire play takes place in a day. The main character, Prospero, is exiled to this island, along with his young daughter, Miranda.  When he arrives he finds Caliban on the island, the son of a witch and eventually Prospero’s slave. Caliban is called barbarian, but his speeches are elegant.  Like many of Shakespeare’s plays, there are stories within stories, and this one is no different, but the point here is the story of an islander who has been taught by both the Island’s natural resources, and by Prospero, who shares with him his knowledge and his books.   Caliban is the product of his small but complex universe and is the creation of remarkable circumstances. His role in The Tempest, like the snake at Lake Maratanza, is at the core of his ecosystem. Remove him, and things fall apart.  Stephen Greenblatt, in his introduction to the play, refers to him as a “victimized hero”.

Shakespeare is my current muse, and my work is made primarily of  clay,  with the addition of paint, epoxies, steel, glazes and smoke.  Engaging my imagination and the characteristics of clay, I continuously  resist the urge to control everything.  I welcome the weird and wonderful stuff that happens all on it’s own.

Donghwa Ode Gallery will be exhibiting at ARTASPEN,
from the 13th to the 16th of August.
You can find us at Booth A15.

Our featured artists are: 

Po Kim, Dae-Sung Park, John Mendelsohn, Claus Brunsmann,

Judy Sigunick, May Bender,  Bong Jung Kim, & Kyung Youl Yoon

The location and hours of the ArtAspen art fair are below:
Aspen Ice Garden 
233 W Hyman Ave 
Aspen, CO 81611
AUG 13 : 5 pm to 9 pm 
AUG 14 : noon to 7 pm 
AUG 15 : noon to 7 pm 
AUG 16 : noon to 6 pm
If you would like a VIP pass to ArtAspen, please register at the link below:


From A Sister’s Closet at Theo Ganz Gallery, Beacon, NY.

IMG_8523 copyIMG_8367 copyWhen Viola Crosses Over.  ceramic

View online catalogue:

From a Sisters Closet: Recent Sculpture
June, 2015

by Nava Atlas

The postcard announcing the current exhibit of Judy Sigunick’s recent clay sculptures depicts a woman’s hands clasped behind a billowy skirt. At first glance, the image recalls Degas’ graceful ballet dancer sculptures — but a second look hints at a darker reality. For unlike the dancers, who strive for a kind of perfection (unattainable as it might be), Sigunick’s figures reveal a sense of brokenness with surface cracks and fissures, though these only add to the beauty and wonder of the pieces in this exhibition.

The Chicago-born and bred artist, a longtime resident of Cragsmoor, NY, returned to art studies at SUNY-New Paltz after raising a family. There, the artist “discovered” Shakespeare during theatrical rehearsals in an adjacent discipline in the college’s School of Fine and Performing Arts. The Bard’s trademark themes of mutability of identity (particularly gender identity) through costume and other forms of disguise have inspired Sigunick for some years now. “Mysteriously and magically, Shakespeare’s people have become studies for my work and in the process reveal stories of my own.”

Titled “From a Sister’s Closet,” the seed from which the emotional component of this exhibit grew was the clothing closet of the artist’s older sister. As a child, she envied the space for its sheer size and vast array of apparel of every color within. Entering it, she recalled, “I would hunt that special something for an altered identity, an imaginary disguise to eventually become myself.” Decades later, in her embrace of a Shakespearean theme of becoming someone else, if only temporarily, the parallel was clear.

Sigunick’s sub theme for the show is “Thirteen Ways of Looking at Viola.”, taken from a poem by Wallace Steven, “Thirteen Ways of Looking At a Blackbird.” Viola (a central character in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night) serves as the muse who inspired the recent series, six of the works, on view. Upon surviving a shipwreck, Viola hides her female identity, presenting herself as a man to become less vulnerable. Inevitably, complications ensure. It was the tension created by Viola’s transformation from woman to man, not in terms of who she knew herself to be, but by how others saw her, that the artist found intriguing.

Viola scarf-3 copyWhen Viola Falls In Love, ceramic

*Viola gray hat-2 copyWhen Viola Finds Sebastian, ceramic, glaze, paint, wood.

Sigunick’s work involves a complex array of ceramic modeling techniques she describes as “coiling and slab building, wheel throwing, and carving. Once the form is completed. I cut it down to fit inside of my electric kiln, fire it and apply clay slips and glazes, firing it once more in the electric kiln. Afterwards I may decide on a reduction firing in sawdust — akin to traditional pit firings.” Happy accidents like cracks and breakage are welcome, as they allow for reassembling pieces in unexpected ways. “The surface is then approached as one would a painting, with mixed media such as paints, tinted epoxies and metals.” Richly hued with earthy tones and layered with a master’s hand at texture, any viewer without knowledge of Shakespeare’s, Twelfth Night, or Viola will be able to appreciate these works for their aesthetic merits alone, either individually or as an entire installation.

IMG_8297 copy Offspring, ceramic, glaze.

A central piece in the exhibit ostensibly departs from the Viola theme but shares strong similarities. “Untitled With Roses,” a figure standing at nearly eight feet pays homage to Rachel Corrie, a young American woman who died in 2003 while attempting to block an Israeli bulldozer aiming to destroy the home of a Palestinian family who had hosted her. Sigunick drew inspiration from Corrie’s published e-mail correspondence with her mother. To “dress” the large metal and clay structure, she used coffee filters, painstakingly sewing them together resulting in a cape for this figure that’s “beautiful and awkward” at the same time. Reflecting the reality of human experience, the work portrays grief mitigated by bravery and hope.

Untitled With Roses2 copyUntitled With Roses.  glazed ceramic, coffee filters, steel.

What might Rachel Corrie and Viola have in common? Both women, the flesh and blood and the fictional one, found themselves alone and unprotected in lands and situations foreign to them. That both Viola and Corrie plunge into male-dominated worlds “highlights the limitations of boundaries,” Sigunick observed. “Whether confronting a CAT bulldozer with an Israeli soldier at the helm, or a Duke manipulating his affairs through a ‘boy’ servant, each of these women conjure speculations on the strengths of  humanity – as  the Bard’s language seems to find his way around social mores into the very heart of our lives.” She calls Shakespeare’s handling of contradictions “generous,” gratified by how Viola’s conundrum is resolved “with utter joy.” Rachel Corrie, of course, was not so lucky.

IMG_8405 copyWhen Viola Waits the Coarse. ceramic, mixed media.

The boldness of the forms and surfaces of the handsome works in this exhibit belie underlying notions of the fragile nature of life — and clay. But, as Sigunick aptly observes, “At the edge of fragility, there is great strength.”

Outsider Kimchi


i wait and i wait….detail of “Viola Wears Patience”, fired ceramic.

kimchi lineup

Kimchi Line Up ready for “Martha”.

Kimchi at Martha

“Martha” menu.

I’m neither Korean nor farmer nor chef.  I make kimchi in upstate NY.   Toggling time spent in a kitchen and an art studio ensures an honest days’ work – 2 deliveries per month to Martha in Newburgh while riding the highs of  creative tides in a studio full of possibilities and a ton of clay and steel.  Sounds magical, right?  Well, it is, but then an event last week confounded my perfectly suitable life with a tidal wave of despair – crashing into my unsuspecting naive enteric nervous system, sending a message in a bottle in exchange for my soul (and the health of my GI tract) Here’s what it told me: “Forgive what we must say.  Your computer is not being controlled by you – a victim of identity crisis you poor thing! Give us access to your Mac and we’ll straighten out what I now can see is a very messy and compromised life.  We promise to restore the magic. Sit back.  So I watched and i watched. Fingers demonstrating awesome speed happening on my computer from another faraway country.  It got worse and although no personal  credit information was revealed (hopefully) , the stressful session ended with a violent cursor war.  Aghast and argh!  I’d been chased through imaginary alleyways (although my legs were no match for  how fast those fingers could run)  no cops  around, a self proclaimed ruling class had  overtaken my Mac and all those college years – wasted!  What could possibly get me through to the other side where Alice wound up, where love and peace happens along with our much revered 4 legged friends.  Ironically, a trustworthy  computer programmer, Adam Saunders, (also my son!)  advised me to change all my passwords and then to hold my finger on the off button. One itty bitty still gesture.  No swords. No foul language. No soul swiping dictator in my face.  OFFLINE I went.   Days later, I am back inside my brain, where cunning fellow humans and brutally fast fingers are faint memories and here is the brilliant and simple lesson I borrow  for now:  Every single day I wake up my body with coffee,  refresh my soul with  real books followed by movement like a  country walk or a run or yoga and re-focus with a serving of creative enlightenment  that sometimes manifests, but sometimes doesn’t. Either way, however the day goes, all the jobs I take on remind me that I am a person. If I pay attention to being a person.  And then I treat myself to a warm bowl of soup and kimchi.

Ta Da: Kimchi Is Theater

I believe we can imagine ourselves successful, lucky or brilliant or boring or irrelevant or damaged  or perfect – even rich or poor. “You can change the world with a hot bath” writes Anne Lamott in her recent book,  Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace.  And maybe it takes more than one bath but a routine of baths.  Here’s the deal.  Kimchi is beneficial to your gut, yummy, and enhances a laundry list of dishes – Korean and more. But that’s only part of the equation.  The veggies I use are oftentimes the ugly ones from local farmers – organic mostly – the ones  nobody wants even food banks or restaurant  soups or stews.  My daughter’s discards.  They’re Orphans.  But,  ta da, these offerings from the earth pay into your nutrient bank and offer more than joy and health.  They connect to Korean culture and people, to longevity, to knowing transformation firsthand and if, like me, you make it with your own hands, the cabbage becomes your partner which brings to new life what was once transformed by age or drought or flooding into a miserable looking field crop. And now it’s not. It’s lovely.  It’s the stuff phototo sweeten up life for now and for tomorrow. Or at least I imagine it so.

That’s Not All About Kimchi

Many people adore kimchi. Call it the centerpiece for shared language. A variety of colors, rhythms of complex spiciness, a crowning addition to an otherwise mundane dish – like the perfect hat to complete your (tedious + boring) wardrobe. Kimchi is center stage in Korean culture and like great teas and coffees, we adopt, adapt and share, globally.
That’s not all.
It’s alive with organisms promising us a healthy gut with probiotics, packed with healing vitamins, good bacteria (lactobacilli) and deliciousness.
That’s not entirely all.
I’m taught that we have two brains: one in our head and one in a brilliant assembly of organs known as our gut. The latter is, for example, where intuition and smart assessments happen – red flags by


way of digestive disorders wave, sometimes wildly and without pride – like, well you know, gut feelings – things that are wrong (or right) but we can’t rationalize. Apparently there is a science to how the gut knows what it knows.
That’s not all.
Kimchi is fermented, it’s a superfood, and it salutes your gut brain in an entirely satisfying way!
5 Ways to Enjoy Kimchi
1. A dollop in your soup. Incredibly tasty.
2. Kimchi pancakes. Hold the maple syrup!
3. Order “The Judy” (at Martha’s in Newburgh) hint: involves egg + veggies
4. Nori rolled with rice, kimchi and tuna (or egg or avocado).
5. Cranberry + apricot (or mango) kimchi. Mix it all together. Perfect on your Thanksgiving table.
That’s all!
For now. Continue reading

Artful Kimchi

photo(4) photo-3

The world of “kimchi” has grabbed my attention. Sourcing it back to the specifics of culture, taste, health, sustainability, fermentation and human longevity, making kimchi on a regular basis transports me to Beethoven’s 4th piano concerto – huh? – well, really, it has both mellow and fierce undertones, pacifies me to stillness and most of all, all the parts relate to each other and if your brain can handle it, each flavor texture and color speaks to it’s neighboring flavor texture and color – little random acts of kindness inside a mason jar.
I choose the veggies, sort them, clean them, chop and organize them according to color and size, add spices to soothe and surprise, then I press press press in remembrance of  understanding where each once comes from, which farm, which NYS county, or at least that’s the goal. I want you to discover things in the kimchi and feel good, not only because that’s a nice thing to do, but because you will come back for more – maybe or maybe not for health, maybe for the cracker-jacks-box-like surprise. (and you don’t have to eat the entire jar to find it!)
Soon, I suppose I need to mention our “gut brain”.

When Viola Hears the Rock..

When Viola Hears the Rock That Saves Her Twin.

Ceramic. 32″x16″x8″. 2014

The Shakespeare Factor In My Work:

The theater seems to explain the unexplainable – catch you unawares and at the same time, have you beg for a character’s mercy despite conventional wisdom pointing a finger at what is good and what is bad.  Theater is monumental.  It’s also mercurial, temporary and meant for us – suspending time, briefly altering our own realities.  Borrowed costumes manipulate our experiences of each character,  and the lighting, stage sets, co-opted space, all designed to touch our minds and feelings and coax us into recognition of ourselves in them. Some briefly and borrowed ideas from Shakespeare’s works   buzz around my brain, like crazy mosquitoes just  waiting to land me a character to feast on, to reflect upon, but mostly to curb assumptions, predicting plots, and prod me along –  into worlds full of possibilities never  before imagined.