Judy Byron

What Matters

Jane and Jennifer Ayanna and Willa Marianne and Joan

WHAT MATTERS: an installation by Judy Byron

The question of WHAT MATTERS resonates strongly with me and defined my second Artist House Installation.

Introducing audio for the first time to give voice to the text that has been so central to my work, these new 3-D portraits continue to combine my love of drawing with my intense concern regarding the elusive nature of identity.

Using the same process as with WHERE I LIVE: Exploring Identity with Bodies and Clothes, life-sized color pencil drawings of each pair of women were created from photos taken while they discussed what mattered and were attired in clothing they truly enjoyed. Each woman was invited to write on her drawing's reverse side. These drawings were then soaked in water, pinned to each model, shaped to her figure and dried. Since the handmade linen paper shrinks ten percent, the result is a softly cast shape of the posed figure.

The dark silhouette backgrounds are rendered on large sheets of Arches paper with color built up from the artist's journaling and warm ups, later covered with charcoal that is fixed and washed down to reveal these marks. Each person's silhouette is defined with a leather punch. This outline of holes allowing light to pass through and incorporates my theatre training that acknowledges one's inner and outer life at any given moment in time. Finally, tabs, much like with paper dolls, allow the clothing drawings to be slipped through and attached to the silhouette sheet, conveying the overall 3-D effect.

The concept of Artist House brings together art, ideas and audience as a way of building community and exploring the works' narrative in a neighborhood setting. Three Sunday salons, a closing event and two Evenings of Conversation; Art Matters and Peace Matters, welcomed over 300 people. Presenters — DC Mayor Adrian Fenty; Director DC Arts Commission, Tony Gittens; master drummer, Kristen Arant; American University Director and Curator, Jack Rasmussen; artist and educator, Rex Weil; restaurateur and activist, Andy Shallal; as well as commercial gallery directors, Tim Davis and Jayme McClellan - encouraged diverse audiences and animated conversations.

All were invited to provide anonymous responses to WHAT MATTERS through www.judybyron.com. Selected responses from the over 100 respondents are presented on the site. These responses will later inform my next artist book.

My next ARTIST HOUSE INSTALLATION: Perfect Girls is planned for Fall 2009.

Special thanks to audio producer Shea Shackelford.