Born in London and raised in Rome and New York, Judith Barnes works in the visual and performing arts. Founder and Artistic Director of indie opera company Vertical Player Repertory 1998-present. LEIMAY Fellow, 2016-2018. Member of New Clay Studios, Brooklyn, 2010-2020.
Training in vocal performance
The Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University and OperaWorks L.A.
To learn more about Judith’s work in the performing arts, please visit Vertical Player Repertory at www.vpropera.org
Training in visual arts
The New York Studio School, the Art Students League, Greenwich House Pottery, apprentice to sculptor José de Creeft.
Gowanus Open Studios, Behind the Door, Brooklyn, NY, 2018
Sculptural work featured in Women of Salt and Longing, a live performance at the LEIMAY SOAK Festival, 2018
Group Show at The Old Garage Gallery, Pine Hill, NY, 2016
Solo show at Basta Pasta, NYC, 2014
PROCESS: GOWANUS, Norte Maar Curated Studio Tour, 2014
Gowanus Open Studios at New Clay Studios, Brooklyn, NY, yearly 2010-2017
CONTACT JUDITH at vpropera @ gmail.com
I am a multi-disciplinary artist—a singer, sculptor, and theater maker. My roots are in the visual arts, and I pursue a parallel vocation as an opera singer and director. In recent years, I have returned to a visual arts practice I had put on hold while concentrating on opera. As I develop a body of sculptural work, I continue to perform, direct, and teach opera, and I serve as artistic director of the indie opera company Vertical Player Repertory.
I have been pulled all my life between the poles of the most ephemeral, music, and that most durable of art forms, sculpture. With my singing I seek to catch the wave of invisible, intangible structure and spirit. With my directing, I attempt to sculpt in time and sound. With clay I strive to explore both the fragility and the endurance of our physical being.
Since early times, clay has been pressed into forms that reflect, extend and support the human body. The clay figure, with its hard fleshiness, holds a unique spiritual charge. The clay vessel holds water, food, the ashes of the dead. The vessel protects and encloses an empty space full of possibility. In sculpture that always refers back to the body, I look to shape the idea of empty space inside form, the inside/outside of the body/vessel, the conflicting experience of the body as a deeply interior place and yet an external, protective shell. The visceral experience of wrestling form from earth, water and fire mirrors my own wrestling match with my body and its limitations and contours.
My teachers in the visual arts have included Pat Passlof and Ben Dienes, with whom I studied painting as a teenager, Ellen King, who introduced me to ceramic arts, and Elaine DeKooning, Leland Bell, Jock Ireland and Bruce Gagnier at the New York Studio School. I was introduced to large scale figure drawing by Marshall Glasier at the Art Students League, and studied ceramic technique with Peter Lane at Greenwich House Pottery. I was apprenticed to sculptor José de Creeft in his Chelsea, NYC studio, and learned traditional carving techniques with the woodcarver Orsos Jakab in Hungary. Other important mentors and influences include family friends Milton Hebald, Nancy Spero and Leon Golub.