Judy Birnbrey Robkin is a native Atlantan whose work has been shown in galleries around the country and whose pieces have been juried into shows such as the American Craft Council, Piedmont Craftsman, Carolina Designer and many more. She has worked with a variety of clay techniques throughout her career and is currently immersed in a project entitled "Ladies", a series of intricately handcrafted ceramic women. Judy launched the arts program at the Weber School in Atlanta. As a ceramics instructor at the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina, she teaches hand building, Raku and other firing techniques.
Designer Craftsmen Guild
Having lived in Israel for many years, I feel a strong international influence on my pieces. My “Ladies” appear to have stepped out of the local marketplace, be it in Morocco, Italy or Greece. I use textures and objects collected from all over the world including Indian textile stamps, Middle-Eastern trinkets and Chinese jade to enhance the story that each piece tells.
Revealing the personality that is hidden under the headdress or behind the shawl, I attempt to unearth the simple yet elegant woman emerging from the clay. Just as our lives are textured by time and experience, layered through joy, love, loss, and surprise and colored by world events and personal experience, so too are my "Ladies" - textured, layered and colored.
I use a wide range of stains, glazes, underglazes, and oxides through multiple firings to build up the color and enhance the marks and textures embedded in the clay. I rarely start a piece with a specific face in mind. For me, the excitement begins as I see the personality emerge from the clay and culminates when the viewer identifies with an individual "lady."
My hand-built clay "Ladies" were originally inspired by an old, wrinkled street vendor in Croatia who was tickled when my husband told her she was beautiful (and luckily, I snapped a "before" and "after" photo for proof). The memory of her girlish smile inspired my first pieces in this series .