3-D printed artwork by Judy Gardner

3-D Studio Demo Artist Judy Gardner

Judy Gardner will be in the 3-D Studio demonstrating 3-D printing January 13-14.

Judy Gardner is a painter, printmaker, bookbinder, digital artist and self-professed process junkie. She earned a BFA in Graphic Design at Northern Arizona University and a Masters in Humanities at the University of Colorado, Denver. She currently teaches electronic imaging at Regis University and manages Alchemical Eye Studio, where she works as a consultant with artists wishing to incorporate alternative process digital print and digital fabrication techniques into their work.

Her personal work explores the foibles of human nature and tends toward a metaphysical point of view fed by her training as a shaman.

Megan Farlow: What will your demonstration at the DAM be like? What can visitors expect to see?

Judy Gardner: I'll be bringing my 3-D printer and a large under-sea mural piece I am working on. Expect to see the 3-D printer in action. While the printer is working, I'll also be working on either creating new models on the computer or finishing models I have already printed. I do a lot of post-production work on each piece once it's printed, before it is ready for inclusion in the larger work.

Judy Gardner's 3D printer

MF: How did 3-D printing become a large part of your artistic process?

JG: For many years, my "day job" was doing computer animation for a forensic engineering company. When I first got access to a 3-D printer, I was amazed to discover how much of that skill set was transferable, so I came into 3-D printing without much of a learning curve. I was immediately enthralled by the possibilities suggested by the technology, but I was a little apprehensive about how the new medium would be received by the art world. The first two 3-D pieces I did were accepted into a show at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art in Santa Ana, so that encouraged me to keep going.

To be honest, I was still experimenting a bit tentatively when Bill Havu (William Havu Gallery) saw a botanical piece I was working on and asked if I could work larger and "step it up a notch." He invited me to be part of a show he was planning that would include a group of female artists all doing botanical or organic imagery and working in new media. His enthusiasm inspired me to cast caution to the wind and just jump in with both feet.

MF: Your 3-D printed artworks contain a lot of interesting imagery such as birds, human figures, and clocks. What stories are you trying to tell, or what message are you trying to get across with these works?

JG: My ancestry is a mix of Celtic and Native American. I think that combination tends to draw me into a close and somewhat metaphysical relationship with nature. I've studied transpersonal psychology and am trained as a shaman. I believe strongly that everything has a form of consciousness. I think it's important for artists to have a deep inner life so they have something interesting to say.

When it comes to pinning down a specific narrative in my work, that gets a little trickier. I know a lot of very successful artists who do work that is content driven, but for myself, if I set out to create a piece "about" something, it always ends up feeling trite and pedantically narrative. A lot of the imagery for my work seems to burble up organically from that inner quagmire of the subconscious. I start to figure out what a piece means after it's done, sort of like interpreting a dream. I use a lot of symbolism and metaphor. There's always a strong undercurrent of ecology and honoring nature, along with an intention to bring balance, beauty and healing. Right now, I know I'm not alone in being very fearful for the safety of our planet and the other beings we share it with.

You may have noticed that the human figures in my work are almost exclusively female. I've given that a lot of thought. At one point, I made an intentional effort to incorporate male figures, thinking that would bring about balance. The work didn't seem to flow at all, so I had to figure out why. I came to the realization that my figurative work is not about gender or relationships. I think the female figures embody the anima, as Jung described the deep, mysterious, subconscious aspect of the psyche, which he characterized as female. The animus, or masculine aspect of the psyche entails the ego, logic, and linear thought. There's nothing wrong with that, it's just not what my work is about.

MF: Do you think 3-D printing and digital techniques will continue to have a bigger role in the future art world?

JG: 3-D printing and other digital fabrication techniques, such as CNC routing and laser cutting/etching add an amazing new set of possibilities to an artist's arsenal. I think that their role in the art world will increase exponentially as a new generation of artists who are not intimidated by computers grow up and step onto the art world stage.

MF: Lastly, what inspires you as an artist?

JG: I'm a total process junkie. When I work, it feels as if I am entering into a relationship with the medium I am working in. Different materials want to express themselves in different ways. I am always listening to the materials I am working with to learn from them.

When I'm out in nature, I am drawn to interesting forms, interesting color shifts and combinations, interesting mathematical relationships. Plant forms provide a lot of the underlying basis for Sacred Geometry, so I am always fascinated by that.

I often wake up in the middle of the night with a sudden clarity about something I've been working on. I'll have realized how to create a form I've been thinking about, or what materials will give to most visual power and integrity to an object I've visualized. Fortunately, my studio is close to my house, so I can get up in the middle of the night and go out and work.

Photos courtesy of Judy Gardner.

Megan Farlow was a studio and artist programs intern in the department of learning and engagement at the Denver Art Museum. She enjoys the museum’s American Indian art collection, especially works by Jeffrey Gibson.

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