How Judi Tavill's Work Explores the Intricate Connections in Life

Paige Simianer | July 13, 2023

Judi Tavill seamlessly blends sculpture and drawing to explore the captivating world of biomorphic abstraction. 

With a background in fashion and textile design, Judi has carved her path as a renowned ceramic artist and rising star in abstract contemporary art. 

After earning her BFA from Washington University in Saint Louis, Judi made a creative pivot thanks to the transformative experience of motherhood. Falling in love with clay, she discovered her passion for fine craft ceramics, exhibiting her works at prestigious venues like the Philadelphia Museum of Art Contemporary Craft Show and City Hall's Grand Gallery in Las Vegas.

Her work is an ongoing adventure of exploration, discovery, and awareness as she captures the intricate connections and entanglements we experience in life. 

From the interplay between ourselves and the world around us to the mesmerizing order found in nature, Judi draws inspiration from the undeniable presence of entanglement.

Judi Tavill crafts gestural forms that symbolize the power of connection. Her sculptures intertwine, link, and stack together, emphasizing the complex web of relationships. 

The fired clay becomes her canvas, providing a surface for her graphite drawings. These meandering lines twist, layer, and separate along the sculpture's surface, exploring gradations and depth. 

Judi Tavill's work is a testament to the beauty of untangling confusion and finding clarity and harmony. With each piece, Judi's hands connect with the clay, capturing the essence of profound and captivating connections.

Artwork Archive had the chance to chat with Judi Tavill about her creative process, how similar humans truly are to nature, and what impact she hopes her art will have on those least expecting. 

You can see more of her work on Discovery and learn more about her art practice below. 

Judi Tavill, 'PASSAGES', 35.25 x 19.25 x 8 in, 2021

Do you have a favorite or most satisfying part of your process? If so, can you share a bit about it?

To be honest, I enjoy many parts of the process. Over the past twenty-plus years, my journey of creating various works has ultimately brought me to this current body of work. 

The physicality of building the sculpture has its own excitement for me, as well as the exploration as I draw line over line to create energy on the surface of it. Or, my most recent investigation of bringing the graphite lines off the work onto a 2D surface. 


How has your background in fashion and textile print design influenced your current artistic practice of biomorphic abstraction in sculpture and drawing? 

My early years as an artist—studying figure drawing and having a background in fashion design—definitely affects the biomorphic nature of my work. 

Textiles and their interwoven systems, like the continuous thread running through a knitted sweater, have likely made a connection with my brain. This connection inspires me to explore systems and relationships in the world and how we're all connected.

My previous experience designing with Lilly Pulitzer many years ago, following the legacy of Suzie Zuzek (the original "Lilly" print designer), likely influenced my focus on line quality and the consistent flow of my lines.


You mention being fascinated by the intricate organization of trees and the complex systems in the human body. How do these elements inspire your artistic exploration of connection and entanglement? 

The overwhelming theme of what motivates the work for me is expressing connection and entanglement. I really look at physical systems for information that lead me to form these connections.

As you look closer at circulatory, vascular, and muscle systems, as well as root systems, branches, leaves, and veins found in diverse vegetation, you see the intricacies shared between nature and the human body—how we are so complicated and so closely related.

Similarly, one can also see how man-made socio-political systems are actually created based on the ideas observed in natural systems and the human body.

That being said, we can see how certain systems can become flawed, and if a specific section is severed or experiences malnutrition, the affected "section" and the associated area can become diseased, deteriorate, and even die.

I can't help but think about how we see this in our systems of society as a whole, and how we should be working towards nurturing all aspects of our entangled systems. 

Judi Tavill, 'TWINE', 13.75 x 16 x 14.5 in, 2022

What does success as an artist mean to you? 

Moving the work out into the world so that it has the potential for exposure, appreciation, or simply discussion, broadly defines success for me. 

That said, being able to continue to make my art and find my flow in the process—the ups and downs, twists and turns, and riding the waves is what I strive to continue. 


What impact do you hope your artwork will have on viewers? 

I hope my work creates a visual journey for the collector, and each time they view the work it continues to feed the eye. 

Ultimately, I would like my art to be out in the world. I want it to reach those who may not be actively seeking to be exposed to art, but it catches them off guard and evokes a profound impact that may influence them during their day or even leave a lasting impression throughout their lives.

It may be subconscious, but without exposure, the brain doesn't have the opportunity to think differently.

So, my larger goal is to expose people to my work with the hope that it enriches their life in (even small) ways they least expect or may never consciously be aware of.

Judi Tavill pictured in front of some of her finished pieces. Image courtesy of the artist. Photo credit to: @emilybillingtonphoto

Why did you decide to use Artwork Archive to inventory/manage your artwork?

Artwork Archive simplifies my process and clearly organizes my work in one place, so it can be referred to easily and pulled from as needed—all while allowing users to delve into as much detail as they want regarding the work's history, information, current location, and more.


How do you use Artwork Archive on a daily basis?

I refer to it pretty often, because my brain can't seem to hold all of the information for each piece as well as a computerized program does.

It allows me to keep track of where my work is, including when it will be returned, if it was sold, and who it was sold to, while also providing a means to locate it whenever needed.

It also gives me a history, documenting what I've done so far, to what I'm going to do moving forward. 

More specifically, it enables me to easily access and refer to the sizes and dates of my work. Additionally, I can pull my photographs whenever I need and access general pricing information.

Overall, it's just a great database.


Judi Tavill, 'THROUGH', 19.25 x 16 x 14.75 in, 2022

What advice would you give an emerging artist during this time?

What's most important to realize is that making art and having it collected are both long-term games. Of course, there may be certain trends that align with your work which can potentially bring more exposure and sales to your art.

You do, however, need to keep making the work that is truly your own in order to be comfortable with yourself.

Networking is kind of a strange word. It sounds very businesslike and contrived—but it's really just about making friends and finding like-minded people in the world that appreciate what you do. In turn, you appreciate what they do. Developing these connections over time enables more people to be exposed to the art you create.

I believe there are collectors for all mediums, types, and artistic voices. It's all about finding those individuals that connect with what you're doing, be it a single piece, an installation, or an exhibition, one step at a time.

Judi Tavill pictured in her studio. Image courtesy of the artist. Photo credit to: @emilybillingtonphoto

Judi Tavill uses Artwork Archive to catalog her artwork, build a history for each piece, keep track of where her pieces are, and so much more. 

You can make an online portfolio, catalog your artwork, and generate reports like inventory reports, tear sheets, and invoices in seconds with Artwork Archive. Take a look at Artwork Archive's free trial and start growing your art business. 

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