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Judith Z. Z. Miller

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Twenty years ago, I found a photo of a powerful four-figure sculpture, "Emergence of Clowns," by Native American artist Roxanne Swentzell. It fascinates me: the photo moved from my refrigerator to my altar and back. Four jesters, naked and unadorned except for tasseled hair, are in various poses; each has a different gaze/perspective. While searching, each feels content in their physical bodies, with both an inner secret and a wry sense of humor. I made faint photocopies and began drawing on top of them, giving the figures bright clothing and decorating their bodies with my own "tribal" symbols. I created drawing after drawing; the more I worked, the more I began to feel myself drawn spiritually and emotionally inside. I found myself wanting to become each of them, to know what they know, to inhabit their bodies and see out of their eyes. On top of faint prints of naked photos of MYSELF in each pose, I began to draw?and what you see is the result.

I used to be an actress, and one of the ways I learned to create a character was by imagining my own body inside of a particular painting or sculpture, then creating a character from that physical experience. A threat to the life of a loved one during 2000 was the personal crisis that inspired my visual art. Suddenly I began carving what I now call "Sacred Staffs" from the trunks and roots of trees (imagine what Moses or a shaman would carry). With seemingly no conscious effort on my part, animal like-creatures appeared. This series of self-portraits is my first foray into drawing and portraiture. I was immersed in the sculpture I mention above. I couldn't stop myself ? it became like an obsession. I wanted to know what it would be like to be inside the sculpture ? so I drew myself there. As an artist I strive at all times to follow my impulses ? to let Spirit and intuition guide me. My task is to get out of the way.

I am a self-taught artist inspired by the beauty of nature and the guiding force of her intuition. I creates primal, wearable art and sculpture, ritual staffs and hiking sticks from tree branches, stones and paint; my Spiritual Self Portraits are my newest project.

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