A Pilgrim’s Progress

Interview with Judith Schaechter

Three Tiered Cosmos (2015)

Three Tiered Cosmos (2015)

Many thanks Judith, for agreeing to be interviewed. I would like us to discuss some of the ideas within your blog ‘Late Breaking Noose’ http://judithschaechterglass.blogspot.co.uk

In what way is the conceptual thought and vision underpinning your work different to that which might be possessed by a very skilled but pre-literate medieval craftsman? What are the main differences, which occur to you and are there perhaps some important areas which you might share in common? 

My first thought is that I have lived no other lives and as such my perspective is firmly locked in the present cultural circumstances and my speculation is really, probably just that.  I mean, who can say?

I do believe there is a paradigm shift between pre-literate and post-literate consciousness and that this shift corresponds with a shift from an “embodiment” to a “representation”: Meaning that we go from experiencing images to reading and interpreting them.  When I work, I try very hard to access the pre-literate part of my consciousness and thus to appeal to the similar part in others viewing my work.  Because I am in fact very literate, the transition can take days—so when I am in writing/teaching mode I can’t just walk into my studio and expect to be able to make pictures.  The change is rocky and unpleasant and takes about three full days of constant effort.

This is my way of saying that I would hope my work taps into the universal human consciousness on a pre-literate level enough that my work would be instantly comprehensible and experience-able by a Medieval person—or any human being from any culture at any time, for that matter.  We have enough in common that I reject notions of cultural exclusivity and ideas we are constantly confined to the here and now.  All humans have imagination and empathy!

One thing that has changed vastly is the role of “the individual’s expression” which is a nice way of saying we’ve become ego-bound.  The medieval craftsperson would not be invested in his/her personal perspectives, opinions, tastes or anything else.  It wasn’t about them, so much as channelling God.  I am guessing this—I haven’t read anything to confirm it (or if I have I can’t cite it because I forget.) It would not even begin to occur to them to put their personal stamp on anything.  Let’s not forget, apropos of words, that “Art”, as an exclusive category of something didn’t even exist yet.  There were no artists until the Renaissance.  Art is a very modern construct which ensures that “art pour l’art” (art for art’s sake) will eventually come about and the next step after that is for art to disappear into oblivion because it becomes its own theory and ceases to exist as anything else.  Art is nihilistic and predicts its own demise from irrelevance. (This is one of the reasons I prefer to be thought of as a craftsperson!) When art becomes its own theory it is 100% severed from the corpus of life and is 100% words,  bye bye art.

So the medieval or any preliterate person making aesthetic things was not imagining that these things they were making were separate from life, or religious ritual.  These things were deeply embedded in life and god and therefore didn’t need some extraneous, philosophical, literary codification.  (And, for what it’s worth, one could extrapolate that they did not feel the modern existential alienation since they were not investing their personal ego into what amounts to literary theory. They were channelling, not in competition with God!)

Like I said, I strive to make things that are similarly ingrained in the experience of life.  And I don’t think I am so special—many, many artists do this.  In fact, many artists I know have learning disabilities and are not good with words.  This isn’t a “disability” so much as a superpower! But we all know pre-literacy!  We were all children once!

We all have the same five senses, the same lifecycle; we share the same earth and sky. All humans know conflict, love, and yearning. People universally experience aesthetic beauty, despite the pesky and divisive WORDS we ascribe to the experience.  We can deny it all we want, but all people are aesthetically discerning and sort the wheat from the chaff, this is biological so we don’t ingest toxins or make ourselves vulnerable to attacks.

As some flimsy proof of the universality of aesthetics, we fill our museums with artefacts from other cultures.  It’s highly arrogant to assume many or most would not do the same if they had the resources to do so.

Basically, this is more than enough to say that we share a lot beyond language!

In considering the differences there are, of course, all the cultural trappings specific to Millennial Western life.  Relevant to your question, most observers of my work are literate so they will tend to read the picture and analyze it as a symbol.  This leads to demands for explanations of things one-to-one.  I just did a drawing of a bear at a campfire and showed it to a friend.  She wanted to know “what the bear meant”.  I really struggled to answer.  I wasn’t thinking the bear was a symbol of something like “man’s wild nature” or something…sometimes a bear is just a bear, to paraphrase Freud!  I don’t think a medieval person would ask that any more than they would ask a real bear in the woods what it meant.  It’s just being there!

Horse Accident (2015)

Horse Accident (2015)

I understand your view that most people at different periods in history would be able to find your art accessible but, as I think you are suggesting, despite the flexibility of human consciousness through the ages and despite the empathy we all possess, not all creative work or art created in the present time would be as accessible as yours? 

Well, plenty of artists are making work that is about current events or deeply, specifically personal ones.  I think the more specifically time-bound and self-bound one makes their work the less likely it is to be understood by others (if that’s the goal).  I think of a book that I never read; “American Psycho”.  Apparently Bret Easton Ellis’ style included a sort of barrage of contemporary references to products like Rolexes, Porsches, Perrier water etc.  It’s reminds me of seeing a Dutch nativity from the late Renaissance in which everyone has a frilly collar.  It dates itself!  For better or worse—I’m not making a value judgment here, just pointing it out. But you can still see people doing stuff and understand them on some level.

You say of course very understandably that you can only speak for your own views, but do you think a more abstractly removed, mainly conceptual work of art in the modern time would be universal enough in its reach to engage the medieval viewer?  Would such a viewer (or even a non-literate viewer from the present) have a conceptual entry point to allow for an interest in what was being shown, or to recognise that what they were looking at was art in some form? 

We all have our limits in how we understand the world and images.  People from different times and cultures  (and you could include a “personal culture of one” in this) are just as subject to cultural bias and blindness as we are and even images geared towards being universal would be met with resistance.  But basically, I think anyone can understand Malevich’s “White Square”.  They may not understand the specific political or cultural reasons why he made it or what it was in response to, but everyone understands a VOID!  What we refer to as “formal elements”, line, colour, volume, light etc are universal. But that just covers sight. Also as I said before, we share the same lifecycle and planet.  So I can look at the ancient Egyptian bust of Nefertiti and “get it”.  But maybe that’s too easy, I also can understand depictions of ritual scenes and hunts etc and I don’t think that requires a ton of education to understand.  Even more extreme, I think I understand cave art.  People are always trying to figure out why they made it but they mean very specifically.  They want to know was it magic/religious?  Was it hallucinations?  Was it to influence the hunt?  Was it entertainment?  Were they just bored?  What is the exact story they tell?  But it can be understood simpler than that. They are marks. We can understand the urge to mark a surface—don’t most children do that until stopped by their horrified parents?  It’s very human to say “I was here!”  It’s very human to show what an influence we are on the environment and a single mark of a stick in the dirt does that on a tiny scale. They are also images of animals and we have always been fascinated by animals, so no surprises there.

Every single person invents art for the very first time as a child, so we can try to remember what that was about. But yes, the specifics of the narratives are lost to us forever. But those are just the words!!!

Your understanding about the separation which came from the creation of the idea of art, which involved an uprooting of the understanding from its earlier pre-Enlightenment position, really resonates for me.

Would it be right to say that your approach to your own creative work intentionally eschews some of the philosophical ideas about art which came into being with the concepts of Aesthetics? 

I am protected from that because I do not know them!  Thank goodness!  If you are talking about what I think you are talking about; the notion that Art with a capital A has become idea-based rather than sensory, process or materially based then I grew to understand that over decades (and I would place the onset as Modernism more than the Enlightenment—but I really think it begins in the Renaissance, actually.)

In my delicate, formative years, I didn’t get any of that at all.

I do not eschew anything in the studio—I go to a place where nothing need be eschewed in the first place…such is the glory of a pre-literate over post-literate frame of mind wherein one might need to be jettisoning fuel in order to not sink from the weight of it all.  It’s easier just to say I try to think like a child (with an emphasis on try).  Don’t get me wrong, I like, even love, philosophy, but the second it influences my art, the gig is up.  And I really hope it never has. To make good art you must reach beyond knowledge and theory into the complete unknown.

What are the implications for you of being intentionally out of kilter with such perspectives? 

I think it keeps my artwork from being poisoned by the irrelevance I see so predominantly in the trendy art of today.  There’s a reason no one cares about that stuff!  Ugh, I sound so cranky…but I really don’t care for a lot of art post Renaissance.

But again, I am hardly unique in my out-of -kilterness. (A writer of art speak would say “off-kiltrarity”)  Many, many artists are like this.  I do not think Art Theory (or Art Theoreticians, more like) really call the shots as to what art should be, talk about the tail wagging the dog!  It is they who are out of kilter!  Pass the Kilts!  We’re all going Scottish. (I am 1/10000% Morrison from Lewis)


I can see in your writing your admiration for the unprepossessing aims of the earlier craftspeople working mostly on projects ultimately directed towards an expression beyond themselves, often to the glory of God.

From what I have learnt about the medieval mind-set, quite strong themes of extreme or vivid mood abound – with a tendency for more vivid affectation, and the power of emotion and impulse upon the self. In addition to such swings of less mediated temper, the medieval consciousness does not focus on the primacy of the self. The self existed but more in relationship binds of kinship and authority, with a humility rather than claimed mastery in the face of both the wonders and the calamities of existence and an acceptance of the unexplainable, fate and the mysteries of life. 

There is an appealing, clear and uncomplicated kind of brutality and authenticity in this experience and I am wondering whether this is part of the draw for you in this?

Yes! I said “one could extrapolate that they did not feel the modern existential alienation since they were not investing their personal ego into what amounts to literary theory. They were channelling, not in competition with God!”.

I want to elaborate on that a little.  As I understand it, one of the many sea changes in the Renaissance was the idea of “self” as “heroic individual”…something that must have been a really refreshing change from being a helpless cog subject to nothing but the whims of fate (or the liege)!  But it comes with deep consequences, such as personal responsibility.  What I was talking about viz literacy, art shifting from an embodiment to a representation is enabled by this shift as well.  Art is now a product of a person.  As such it is subject to disbelief in a way an icon could not be.  “Seeing is believing” shifts to “don’t believe everything you read”— suddenly art is synonymous with artifice, because can you really trust that guy Botticelli at the end of the day?  He’s mortal, after all.  Every decision in that painting was his and his alone so if the ankles are all wrong you can blame him.  Before, it was God’s fault!  :)

So, I guess, one strategy was to now promote the artist as a “Genius”! Somehow his visions and opinions are better than a mortal’s. Otherwise, art has no claim to specialness at all. It’s just the vain scratchings of any old fool. Another strategy was amounted to a sort of “realism contest” to see who could paint the most illusionistically. That sort of puts it right up there with weight lifting, but whatever.

What mattered is that after the Renaissance the artist’s opinion of how things should look was now the main event since he could no longer lay claim to being “a mere channel for the heavenly spirit”.

But I don’t want to imply that pre-literate, pre-SELF-expression art is just naïve.  It was just as truthful as science is to us now.  And you would think that by separating from the church, by not channelling God, one could be more realistic as a human; I mean, is it not quite a claim to say you are channelling god, after all??  But instead of becoming more modest, artists (and everyone, artists are just a reflection of society) started to see themselves as the central, divine entity.  Kind of like, well, if earth isn’t at the centre of the universe, then it must be me!  The idea there might not be a central focus is too much for us.  It’s god or me, not “dark matter” or chaos.

You see the same thing happening because of the rise of science.  The truth just makes us panic, we’re probably better off as believers; believe me…and I’m an atheist.


One way to see how we might, today, set our self aside and channel something greater is Jung’s ideas of collective subconscious.

The Battle of Carnival and Lent (2011)

The Battle of Carnival and Lent (2011)

Pre-literate culture generally relies on the capacity to communicate and pass on understandings in ways, which are more inclined to record upon the mind and can be recalled with ease. The common solution for long narratives being that they are recounted in a circular, repetitive, mimetic way, which helps the capacity to recall, with agonistic perspectives added to for emotional punctuation.

You have already said in your blog that the focus in such oral (as opposed to literary) accounts was not focused on the meaning of single words but more orientated to phrases. If I understand your account correctly, they were conveyed through the living, breathing person, as a form of ’embodied’ knowledge?

Yes.  This is what I gleaned from reading “Homo Aestheticus” by Ellen Dissanayake and “Eros the Bittersweet” by Anne Carson and “The Spell of the Sensuous” by David Abram.

One important thing I said was that to encourage memorization, things had to be aesthetically engaging.  Once as culture writes, you can make dreadfully boring things like telephone books (remember them?!), law books, technical manuals etc.  Stuff that if you had to memorize you might die of sheer boredom; but wrapped into a nifty story could be much more easily done.  Even history books can be boring now, because you only have to refer to them to reclaim the knowledge they contain.

Interestingly, if you tell someone their art is “entertaining” they are liable to punch you.  Entertainment is for lowlifes, apparently. Art is for the few who can tolerate its entry exam, which is mainly an endurance test.

From what you said in your blog about literate culture involving a re-wiring of the mind from what went before, a disjuncture of sorts…Do you ever wonder about the periods of overlap when such oral based culture gradually changed into a position where more people had access to more abstracted thought through written language? 

For example in the development of the ancient Hellenic world, there was not always the surprising disjuncture that perhaps we might expect. In the writing of ‘Herodotus’ Histories’ we see a blend of both older and newer mind sets within a form or writing which in places is quite literate, being succinct, modern and rationally insightful in its analysis of political and military conflict. However the same writing also contains accounts of naked queens, children served in pies and also giant ants, the size of dogs, living in the Indian deserts which were guarding piles of gold! 

I am thinking for the vast majority of human history the greater part of the population (if not all) was illiterate.  It was only when Gutenberg invented the Bible that we had a glut of book inventory and if everyone could read; they could sell a lot of units.  Maybe that’s not how it happened exactly as I don’t think they were expansion-minded Capitalists exactly, but you get the picture.  So the overlap thing doesn’t happen too often.  I was really thinking about vast majorities—I wasn’t saying that everyone, everywhere is now literate.

I’m a little bit worried that you may giving the written word a bit of a bad name, casting it mainly as a restrictive entity: A phenomenon which proscribes rather than frees the work of an artist/craftsperson? 

Au contraire!  I hope it doesn’t seem like that!  I love to read!  I love to write! From a political perspective, I believe in teaching everyone to read, of course!!!  Being illiterate in our culture is a bad, bad thing!  We ate the apple—onward and upward, damn the torpedoes!

What I said in my blog was that there was a cost.  But maybe I could tone that down a notch and say there are consequences to literacy. And it’s good to know what they are. And they are that we no longer experience images as embodiments. When “seeing is believing” shifts to “don’t believe everything you read” somehow this ends up as “don’t believe what you see”—or “don’t trust your senses”.  Perhaps that’s good advice at times, but I think more often than not, it leads to a nasty brand of cognitive dissonance, alienation from our bodies and from nature.

And of course, there’s the aesthetic thing: we allow art to become boring because it doesn’t have to be believed, memorized…it only has to be analyzed or referred to.

I’ve known a number of artists who are inclined to turn upon the written word almost as an enemy…


…and I do not find this surprising as this sentiment more often than not has a relationship with written efforts at some stage to express something definitive about their work ! 

Yes.  I agree that an artwork must contain, inherent in its form, everything necessary for its own continued survival.  No wall text will save it.  No extraneous buttressing will keep it from falling apart if it’s not embedded within its form.

From my understanding ( drawn from Gadamer’s critique of Aesthetics) the meaning of an artwork is a task which cannot be well captured by the specifics of words, when the creative work through the encounter with the viewer, opens itself to understandings which move beyond the specific and the discrete. However, I suppose I would say if the written word was such a problem, and somehow because of its abstractedness counter to the creative impulse, then what would you consider about poetry?  

I have never read Gadamer, but yeah I read poetry and I like it.  To me, poetry is a way of using words in a way that is more creative than fiction (and certainly more than non-fiction).  Both fiction and non-fiction are beholden to systems, invented or not, it doesn’t matter.  But they are beholden.  In poetry, the sky’s the limit.  Go nuts with words!!

I’m also wondering whether the reason you give for the disjuncture you explained between your very literate, demanding career you have in the academic world and the daunting repeated process to unburden yourself of from your ‘literate’ self, may be a little problematic? 

I appreciate it’s a bit tricky to question what you subjectively feel,  but is this “rocky” journey to recover your historicised self, as you have described it, just attributable to the fact that you have to divest yourself of your literate self?

I have no way of knowing but would donate my brain upon my death if it would be helpful!  I like words and I like pictures.  There was a moment, maybe about 30 seconds long, in high school, when I deliberated about my future.  Was I going to be an English major or an Art Major?  30 seconds later I knew.  And later, I knew that that knowing was something any epistemologist would be really jealous of, because I KNEW!  But now I have a hobby (which apparently includes teaching) and I don’t worry too much about it being incompatible with my vocation. So it’s not a problem…not really anyway!

Separate to literacy in itself, what role does the instrumental appropriation of the written and expressed word by the contemporary understandings have in the institution where you work? 

I am not sure I understand the question.  Are you asking how do I see the role of text in visual art or how do I see the role of writing for the contemporary art student (such as writing artist’s statements)?

For example, how does the implicit assumption of the universal unquestionable belief in the values cultural relativism, that no ideas are more truthful or worthwhile than anyone else’s, accord with the evoking of your historicised self?

It’s pretty messed up!  For all the insistence on the primacy of one’s personal narrative, most people haven’t got much to say.  Actually, it’s worse than that. Really, most people haven’t got ANYthing to say. So much for self.

Deep sigh….  Poor things are literally lost in space, this giant, ever-so-important, bloated entities with nothing but i-phone cases and jeans for company.  They look inward and …uh oh!…there’s nothing there but a MacDonald’s logo!  They might be helped by giving up and instead of thinking about how unique and special they are, seeing what they have in common with all humankind….and I am guessing it’s not a jewelled i-phone case.

Cultural relativism has put each of us in a modular office cubby, with no memory of alternatives, nothing but what corporations feed us.  What a nightmare!

How does the belief and expression of equality in human relations being sacrosanct, permit the same? 

The idea of human rights, the idea of addressing social inequality is a wonderful, humane thing.  These ideas should be sacrosanct, but not at the expense of responsibility and the potential to change one’s fate. Self empowerment, when possible, has more value than equal opportunity and I hope it’s understood that that is said from personal experience.  Of course we should try to redress wrongs in society, but there are many competing needs and they be balanced.  Good thing I am not running for public office, no?  I have no idea how to resolve these things humanely and fairly.

We are all born potentially equal but it’s no sin to recognize we don’t end up equal.  Look, humans need to discern. They need to judge.  I believe we can only keep track in our heads of 150 people. We need to sort out all the input. Not all humans are good and have our interests at heart. Not all food is good for us. Not everything is equal no matter how nice that sounds.

Now in the arts: I get upset when my students won’t make hierarchical distinctions about their work in crit.  I don’t want to hurt any one’s feelings, but if Joe worked all semester and sacrificed his time and resources in order to make extremely wonderful paintings I don’t see why that means Jim, who didn’t do anything of the sort, should get the same positive crit.  Or then there’s Jeff who didn’t have to do anything out of his way, he’s just lucky to be a talented guy and only worked ten minutes before the crit and coughed up a gold nugget.

At this point, my students actually get upset at this disparity.  Now maybe Jim has a family and two outside jobs.  I understand there are circumstances beyond his control.  BUT…in the end: an artwork must contain, inherent in its form, everything necessary for its own continued survival. No explanations about Jim, Joe or Jeff’s life will save it. Acceptance of this unfairness is key because redress ain’t possible.

How does the modern impulse to doubt or distrust overt authority and water-down any expression of differential power accord with this older understanding?

My feeling is that any real, effective distrust of authority ended on 9/11.  I am not kidding.  I no longer see young people questioning authority.  This is partly because of 9/11 itself but also they like their parents a lot more than my generation did.

But, as I like to say, “Question authority!  ESPECIALLY your own!”  People often conveniently find authority to be in uniform, but forget to question their own received “wisdom”.  Bad people!

How does the values of philosophical modernism and its rejection of tradition, accord with such views?  All the above, seem to block such a process.

Modernism had to happen.  Duchamp wasn’t so much a genius as an inevitability.

Can we move on now?  Postmodernism seems over now too…

But I am worried that in this interview I sound like a political conservative (which I am not).  I am just someone who was indoctrinated into Modernism in a time (the early 1980’s) when it was an absolute self evident truth that one must overturn the last movement and eradicate it entirely and ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS be pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the arts.

Persephone (2015)

Persephone (2015)

And there I was…just a teenager who liked to draw pictures and make stuff.  And I wondered is there a place for me?  And I decided to make one.  And then I saw there were a lot of people like me.  People who went to art school, not to push the edges of theory into outer space, but to consolidate around an eternal mystery that remained unsolved: how to distil human essence into a picture. And I am confident the answer lies just as truthfully in the centre as it does on the boundaries.

Like you, I am also drawn to the recognition of our own living natures as historicised beings, carrying imbued resonances, buried behaviours and gut feelings which reveal the deeper dimensions of our natures. Resonances which allow us to understand ourselves not just as beings functioning in the present, but also as creatures with one foot in the future and another in the past.

Are not such understandings impossibly hard to reconcile with the life of educational institutions, which are possessed by the need to validate the importance of the present? 

Thank goodness I am only an adjunct!  It’s worth not getting a medical benefit just to keep my brain slightly less contaminated!

Turning a little closer to your work, do stained glass images in churches have the potential to carry a sense of an embodied voice?  ….The breath of God as sunlight passing through and transforming the inert glass image?  

Oh absolutely yes.  I mean, there’s no reason any form art may take would be somehow not capable of this.  It reminds me of the apocryphal quote by Louis Pasteur; “there’s no such thing as pure science and applied science, just good science and bad science”.  Art could be defined as embodiments and bad art is the stuff that misses that mark.  And that could be applied across the board for any human made object or experience, really.

Stained glass seemed uniquely posed to “tug on the heartstrings” so to speak.  The fact that we have a biological attraction to light sources and colour mean that we don’t have to go through a layer of interpretation anyway to be moved by it.  We are like moths and phototropic plants.  But when you combine that effect with a resonant image, well then, there you go!  It’s a slam-dunk.

I was raised with no religion.  I would say that I could be a test case for whether religious images are effective. I loved Christian images, even as a child and I would like to think it’s because they often seem mythological in the collective subconscious sense. But even as an atheist (and my mother had a Christian background and my father, Jewish) I would say the Judeo-Christian story is hard to miss!  Culture seeps in.  So who knows whether I find them compelling because of nature or nurture (culture).

You have said in your blog: “ To create things that exist at the very nexus of spirit and matter, to traverse, redress and redeem the mind/body gap is at the very essence of what it means to be an artist.”… and also … “subjects for art tend to exist at the intersection of ‘beauty’ and ‘truth’, and beauty and truth niggle around like agitated atoms at the intersection of body and soul”.

Would you disagree if I said that this intersection of elements of beauty and truth seems to be one of the strongest features of your work?

You Are Here (2008)

You Are Here (2008)

That’s not for me to say. I do not go into the studio with that as my foremost intention, not really, anyway!  Too much pressure! And rather pompous. To persist as an artist, to make a project, is two step process.  Step one; you believe you are going to do the most amazing thing that ever there was.  You really have to believe in it, not just that it’s worthy, but that it’s the ONLY worthy thing right now.  Otherwise, you will not have the g-force to reach the escape velocity needed to resist the gravitational pull of the ordinary.  It’s extremely arrogant, but without that, no artist can do anything extraordinary, right?  It’s necessary. Step two is surrendering to the idea that one’s “brilliant idea” is a failure and that you must rebuild something in its own image, not the one you originally had. This may be humbling, but what you end up with will be something beyond your ego.

Has part of your journey as an artist been involved in the breaking of the exclusive monopoly Judaism, Christianity and Islam have over glass technology, as a means of the expression of the relationship of these two elements? 

Not at all. As I said above, I was raised apart from religious tradition.  I never thought it had any monopoly so I would not seek to break it!  And, as a good citizen of Post-modernism, I see truth and beauty as relative… at least some of the time!

For myself, your images contain both the medieval and the modern, they possess expressions (for want of a better word) of light and dark beauty….and this is played out within the spiritual truth of the encounter with the wonders of our natural universal world. 

Instead of following the conventions of specific religious creeds your subjects experience the deep wonder of the encounter with nature and the infinite universe. 

That’s a lovely thing to say. When I was younger, I titled many of my things “The Wonder of the World”.  I had to retire that title eventually!  Apropos of this, I remember having a conversation with a friend, who partway through, suddenly exclaimed; “Are you just always surprised?”…and yeah, I kind of am!  So I probably bring that to my work.

Instead of religious symbolism, depictions of saints, and heaven and hell, we encounter (along with frequently female subjects within your works) a reworking of the magic of creation, the endless beauty of natural form, the magic fantastical hidden patterns of creation, within the sky, on the earth, and under the sea, with creatures so exotic to perception, they belong in part to a bestiary.

The human figure is something you seem to have placed as a layer in the sandwich of the firmament: Our unknowing condition to be caught up within these things well beyond ourselves and like the medieval pilgrims of old, bent down, curled up and humbled in the face of the wonders of experience.

I just did a piece called “Three Tiered Cosmos”—I think the sandwich you describe is a fairly universal conception of “space”—there’s an underworld, a “real” world and a heavenly world.  And id, ego and superego.

I know you’re certainly no great fan of pomposity in yourself as much as in others and would probably seek to play down a little in public any claim like I have just made about your work, but what do you recognise in what I have just said? 

Enough that I won’t take you to court if you print it!  :)

The photo credits: Dominic Episcopo

Interview © Judith Schaechter & Aletheia Projects Ltd. (2016)