Sculptor and School of the Art Institute of Chicago instructor Judith Brotman, 58, will be in residence at the Evanston Art Center this month. While sculpting is her love, she also developed a passion for another art form she calls public projects. With her latest work as part of the residency, Brotman will incorporate language and text to help create meditations on the power of words and conversations. Her participation in residency is a revival of a program called a reading project that she founded when she injured her hand three years ago and couldn't sculpt. Her residency will start Sunday and run through Nov. 27.
Q: What will you be doing as part of your residency?
A: The residency is called "A Few Choice Words." For the three weeks that I am at EAC, people will be able to, individually, come and read to me for up to 30 minutes. I will listen to whatever story they choose to read, then, at the end of the residency, I will provide them with a packet of words based on what they read to me. The words will focus on what I heard in their reading and some of what I didn't hear.
Q: Help people to understand this art form.
A: People may wonder what reading aloud and having me provide words, as a result, have to do with art. But this also has other implications in our society: slowing down, listening and hearing. This opportunity will give people a meaningful experience of being listened to. I always think of these as potentially transformational. I'm interested in the possibility of something happening that you never quite know how transformational it would be.
Q: Which artist inspires you?
A: I am primarily a visual artist, but I am inspired by literature too. It inspires my work. However, Anne Wilson has been an inspiration to me. She is an Evanston resident, a visual artist and a former teacher of mine at the Art Institute.
Q: Describe the importance of art and culture on our society.
A: There are really no words for what the arts do to any given culture. That's just how impactful it is. The exposure to art at a young age affects what we think, who we know, how we understand and more. Arts and culture are critical to being healthy, good citizens. There's a meaning found with exposure to the arts that can't be found anywhere else.