The journey of Narrative Threads began as a five-year-old, when I perched on a high stool, in the kitchen of my maternal grandmother, who showed me how to thread a needle, and then handed me a piece of fabric and guiding my hand to poke the thread into and back out of the cloth. These random stitches over the years would take on divergent expressiveness through precise, measured moves, weaving in and out in a story of my perspective on life. Early lessons through 4-H provided a basis of skills, working with templates (patterns) and developing an eye for details. The art part of my creativity is mostly self-taught, with a smattering of art classes in college and much later at the Indianapolis Art Center.
All my work, diverse as it is, stems from that principal of connecting—be it yarn, string, thread, wire, monofilament fishing line, or gel medium, by stitching or layering paper to paper, paper to fabric, copper screen to paper or fabric, or fabric to fabric driven by the underlying thought, “I wonder IF…???”
My artistic creativity is spurred on by setting up a challenge or a problem to be solved. Additionally I work intuitively and in parts—no pre-ordained vision of the whole—it’s a journey and I emjoy not knowing where my creative expression will carry me.
My ultimate hope is to engage a connection with the viewer—I guess one could say, a telepathic connection. I hope that something in the work will spark a memory, thought, concern, joy, humor, tears, or a lump in the throat upon seeing my creative expression as an offering of my perspective. Teaching in the arts, grades 6-12, working with students of varying backgrounds and range of abilities to focus, I embrace the unfettered joy when creativity catches fire in a young person. The diversity in my work is the reason I've not yet sought gallery representation… “Where do I fit, What is the category?”
Something triggers my process. For instance, the Goddess Shawls, began while I was watching the hours of TV coverage on Princess Diana…all the material was in my studio, and it just came into being, seamlessly. My series of nine Goddess Shawls have been exhibited collectively in art galleries, and also individually as selected by curators.
Memorium IXXIMMII (Award of Merit, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft) and Memorium for Columbia were my personal expressions of grief, again viewing the endless hours of terror-filled TV coverage. Found objects often find their way into my work, and these two pieces were no exception. A glass six-sided object saved from a Christmas gift of lotions and potions were encased in a provocative container. Memorium for Columbia grew from carefully saved assortments including a plastic liter-bottle, sushi grass, clothespins, yarn, dried rose petals, assorted buttons, sequins, and wooden beads (exactly seven from my collection)—and seemed to trigger me into thinking of the fragility of space travel, the apparently tiny "oops" that brought a tragic end to seven brilliant lives. Ah, yes, the rose petals: “Why?” They were part of the payload for scientific research (738K pdf from NASA).
I get lost in time as one part leads to another—playing with a theme can keep me occupied for weeks. I’m blessed with a patient husband, and our nest is empty. A recent trip to Providence, Rhode Island, to study with Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts (developers) I became certified to teach Zentangle. Drawing with pen and ink on small “tiles” is an easy to learn method of drawing images from structured patterns, providing relaxed focus while creating beautiful art. I look forward to finding "where can it fit?"—it seems to be the question that brings me to collect pieces of a story yet to be told.
Art has a voice. I'm reminded of the time I read an article about Japanese Chirimen (a heavy crepe fabric traditionally used in making kimono, etcetera) purses. It took me down a long path of creating more than 125 different purses that resembled Cicadas. Synchronicity brought me a commission for 75 purses, with less than three months to complete each one as an individual. No repeats. At just the right moment two talented seamstresses from Houston Community College, Textile Department, appeared up in my life. We enjoyed the flow of creativity and production. I even had time to create a special red, white, and blue one that was sent to Laura Bush and I treasure the thank-you letter that she sent to me.
Have I mentioned that what I do is FUN?
A third generation Californian, Judith has a lengthy résumé dating from her initial venture into the fiber arts (1970’s) through workshops at the Indianapolis Art Center that dovetailed with her BA, with Distinction, in the major study area of Clothing/Textiles from San Jose State University, California. Her works have been in numerous group, invitational and solo exhibitions in California, New York, Indiana, Iowa, New Mexico, Texas, Illinois, Georgia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Louisiana, Arizona and Connecticut.
Shamp’s body of work includes art to wear, wall pieces, framed collages, liturgical works, 3-D constructs, and large scale stage installations and have won awards at MFA Houston Textiles and Costume Institute, 1997 Fine Arts Fashion competition; Merit Award, Crafthouston2002: TEXAS, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, and others. Her accomplishments include co-recipient of a grant for a mystery mural art project with students in the 5th ward of Houston, artist-in-residencies at New Pacific Studio in Vallejo, California, where she investigated hidden family history buried in the Napa area… and led her into graduate studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute in 2006 to earn a Masters Degree of Art in Humanities with emphasis in Mythology and Education from a depth psychology perspective. Currently Judith enjoys sharing her passion in the arts with students at a small private school in Houston, and also teaching workshops in the meditative Zentangle® process.
Judith’s textile journey in art has morphed into a mixed-media approach by finding creative possibilities through reusing and re-purposing throwaway materials and working with found objects to bring forth mysterious and magical imagery.
To contact Judith, email "Judith Shamp" <firstname.lastname@example.org>.