artsNantucket – Summer 2016

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Judith Brust transforms found objects into magnificent monoprints, one-of-a-kind colorful abstract pieces that suggest plant life, windows, planets and life cycles. With her background in classical illustration and in building sculptures using found objects, she approaches her artworks meditatively and spiritually. Regarding the spiritual aspects of her work, she refers to the writings of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell; while artists Mark Rothko, Paul Klee and Louise Bourgeois inspire her shapes, forms and choice of color.

To view Brust’s large, colorful monoprints is to observe art pieces with organic, biomorphic and circular forms. Within each art piece, there is a complex creative procedure related to her earlier work of making sculptures. She first builds up the designs of her prints on her press using elements and found objects including ink, acrylic paint, rope, cardboard, rice paper and fabric. She then places a large piece of paper over the ink, paint and objects and rolls the press over them. The result is a large mixed media artwork on paper with a textural three-dimensional quality within two dimensions; and with each artwork, she draws the viewer into her artistic/spiritual world.

The 74-year-old artist looks back at her life with its consistent theme of merging art with elements from nature. Inspired by her personal studies, observations of the world, extensive travels and fertile imagination, she has evolved from figurative to abstract work. Brust, who began illustrating as a young child, was proficient enough as a teenager to draw portraits of the neighborhood kids. Her marriage to Bob Brust and her bearing of three children—today ages 50, 48 and 40 — enabled her to stay home, combining domestic responsibilities with artistic endeavors. She took studio art classes, “wherever I could” in nearby colleges and museums. As her children grew, she accompanied her husband on his business travels all over the world, while continuing to paint with watercolors in a figurative style and to create sculptures. At age 50, Brust reinvented herself, enrolling at SUNY, Albany to receive her masters in fine art. She was admitted to the program for her sculptures but soon became enamored with monoprints. And as she experimented with the school’s large printing press, she segued in style to abstraction, which she considers to be “freer and more creative.” She explains, “I had two mentors at SUNY, Ed Mayer, the head of sculpture, and Roberta Bernstein, the head of the art department. They took an older student seriously at a time when others might not have.” Another turning point was meeting Dale Bradley in 1995 at the Contemporary Art Center, North Adams MA. “He is an inventor and a fine artist who built both of my presses,” she explains.

The last 20 years of Brust’s life and career have been her most productive. She is still going strong with her monoprints, including her “Life Cycle,” “Passage,” “Nantucket,” and “Imperial Blue,” series, the latter inspired by travels in Asia. Her “Mind’s Eye Series” with its orb type shapes evoke her search “for the meaning of me being here.” While Judith Brust and her husband now divide their time between Nantucket and Captiva Island, Florida, she regards her time on this planet as a celebration of life.

Liz Goldner

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