Biographical Information

Judith Joseph is a Chicago based visual artist and educator.  A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she has a B.S. in Art from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Judith has had numerous solo exhibitions of her work, including the Kraft Center at Columbia University, New York, the Illinois Arts Council Gallery, Chicago, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and a two-person exhibit at Zack Gallery, Vancouver, B.C., Canada.  Her work may be found in hundreds of private collections and many public collections, including the Chicago Public Library, Respect and Tolerance Foundation (Czech Republic), Milwaukee Public Museum, North Shore Congregation Israel, KAM Isaiah Israel Congregation and Family Service of Oak Park/ River Forest, Illinois.  Her ketubah designs are licensed with, the premier seller of ketubah art in the world.

In addition to her dynamic studio practice, Judith is on the faculty of the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Art Center, Highland Park.  She has done numerous artist residencies, several of which included commissioned works of her art.  She is an active member of the Jewish Art Salon, an international group, and participates regularly in group exhibitions in New York and elsewhere with them.  She is Coordinator of the Jewish Artists Collective Chicago (JACC). She was selected as a Fellow for the Spertus Institute Midwest Artists' Lab, a year-long course of study which culminated in an exhibition and the formation of the JACC by the twelve artist-fellows.

Judith's work has been featured in several books about art and many newspaper and magazine articles, academic journals, zines and radio features.  She has received numerous awards, including the Illinois Arts Council Artists' Fellowship Award (1998 and 2004).

My Story

William Kentridge said it best:  “All children draw.  I just forgot to stop.”

From a very early age, I loved art.  I spent hours drawing, making origami figures, cutting shapes and gluing everything together. My attraction to art was tied to my love of books and illustration.  My mother brought me art supplies, and shared her huge collection of art books.  My father, a doctor, taught me about the intricate systems of the body, awakening in me a spiritual connection to biology and natural forms and systems.

I fell in love with the medieval illuminated manuscripts I found in my mother’s books.  I learned calligraphy and began to play with words and border designs.  Then, I discovered beautiful manuscripts from my own Jewish tradition, written in Hebrew rather than Latin.  I taught myself Hebrew calligraphy and at the age of 17, I made my first ketubah (hand-written, illustrated Jewish marriage contract, a traditional folk art.)

I was off and running with the ketubah.  I made them for commissions while I was in art school, and upon graduation, I went backpacking across Europe, seeking out ancient manuscripts in museum collections and making sketches in my notebook.

In my art practice, I create and exhibit paintings and woodblock prints, as well as commissioned ketubahs and calligraphic works.  The intricate, detailed style of the ketubah may be seen in my prints and paintings.

My work expresses the love of stories I felt as a child, looking at beautifully illustrated storybooks.  I bring this love of story to my paintings and woodblock prints, to my ketubahs, and even to my teaching. Increasingly, my work is about social justice.

In my art, I hope to spark insight, joy and discovery for myself and others.  I always hope that my work resonates with people; that they find their own story in it.

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