I do not know enough about ceramics (actually, I do, I took a wheel-throwing course in college and I was […]
I do not know enough about ceramics (actually, I do, I took a wheel-throwing course in college and I was awful at it) to adequately talk about Judi and her work, but see for yourself. Judi is immensely talented, her work is extraordinarily beautiful and her work has been in galleries all over the United States. Tavill’s website and portfolio can be viewed here and purchased here. Judi was kind enough to let me ask her a few questions. Her interview and responses are below:
1. What was your childhood ambition?
I wanted to be an artist but first an interior decorator (I drew floor plans with round rooms and shaggy rugs at age 5) and then fashion designer by age 12… which I did… I ended up designing the Lilly Pulitzer line and textile prints, followed by my own line and then clothes for the first Build A Bear Workshop bears!!!
2. Were there any other artists in your family?
My Grandma Frannie (mom’s mom) received her college degree in art and later in life she designed and made semi precious costume jewelry for Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdales when she moved to Bay Harbor, Florida- It was the 80s…great chunky clusters etc… My Grandma Hattie was VERY crafty… she sewed EVERYTHING and could glue like a mad woman… she loved sparkle and an example of her skill was when she attached rhinestones and sequins to each number on her rotary rotary phone!
3. Did you receive support from your parents?
Yes…at first my dad was saying things like, “Why don’t you major in interior design?” because he couldn’t wrap his brain around what a fashion designer does and how I would ever support myself.
More after the pictures
4. Did you go to college for Fine Arts?
I chose to attend Washington University in St. Louis, receiving my BFA with a major in fashion and a minor in business(the fashion design department was very tutorial(small group))- but I chose it over Rhode Island School of Design and Parsons because I really liked the idea of a true “liberal arts/college experience”. I probably would never have met my husband of 21 years if we had not overlapped by a semester and connected through mutual friends after college….
5. What was your first job out of college?
I worked for Venture Stores(a midwest mass market retailer as assistant fashion director and the private label designer for mens, boys and children. (The vice president in charge of soft lines(clothes) was Maxine Clark who founded Build A Bear Workshop.) I discovered clay in 2002, after leaving fashion behind, I painted and explored sculpture and found my way to clay, something I NEVER would have predicted.
6. Artists you admire?
I admire and respect MANY artists. Of those I admire, I am particularly interested in various ceramic artists and my husband and I collect a great deal of art. (I sell my art to buy more art!) Beatrice wood was a ceramic artist that did not touch clay until around age 40 and she lived to be 105! She was dear friends with Marcel DuChamp and is known as the “Mama of Dada”… she is indeed an inspiration, as is Eva Ziesel, and Ruth Duckworth (who also started a little later and lived to be 105). I think at some level I feel like I can relate to these women. Those clay women have all passed and some of my living favorites include Ani Kasten (younger than me!) (vessel based ceramics), Susannah Israel (figurative sculpture), and I have always been blown away by the LARGE sculptural work of Eva Hild.
7.Where do you find inspiration? What inspires you?
I am definitely inspired by texture in nature and fabric, tactile surfaces whether smooth or rough or patterned. A cloud formation can inspire me as can a pattern I see after carpet with a pile is vacuumed. I love to find inspiration wherever I am, what ever I am doing. My current work is definitely influenced by coastal textures and forms.
8. Does Judi Tavill have a secret talent?
I snowboard and I love to practice my “360’s” but they are on the ground… not in the air… It’s like twirling/dancing on snow and I love to listen to music while boarding but I am very aware about what is happening around me… and other skiers and boarders can’t ever miss me- I wear a hot pink helmet!
9. What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I try to meditate but it is still more of a quest than a practice. I try to walk for about an hour a day and I knit (fairly basic work as it is more relaxing that way for me) In and out of the studio, I listen to TONS of audiobooks and LIVE FOR PODCASTS. I still spend a good deal of time with my family- my husband, we travel a good amount and spend time with friends and explore galleries and museums, our son Sam is a sophomore in high school and we support much of his interests (in graffiti art and now, wrestling) and our son, Jake Tavill, is a musician who has started his freshman year at NYU so we have a tendency to be pulled in as roadies as well as acting as “parental groupies” at his shows!
Thank you so much for your time, Judi!
Images provided by Judi Tavill