Q&A with Resident Artist Judith Supine
If you’ve been pulled in by the captivating cover of a paperback while browsing the bookstore, you’ll understand the appeal of Judith Supine’s collages.
For an artist like Supine, found materials like old magazines are everything and often become the DNA of his work. During his residency at the Red Bull House of Art in Detroit, Supine discovered John K. King Books — one of the largest used bookstores in the United States. In a resurgent downtown with rising rents, it’s a relic that thrives on novelty just as much as it does on selling novels.
It’s such an impressive complex, in fact, that Supine turned over an entirely new chapter in his work. When the latest House of Art residency opens on November 17th, it’ll feature the plethora of cheap paperback covers that make up Supine’s work for the exhibition.
“That place is amazing,” says Supine. “I’ve been going there every few days.”
Supine says his latest body of work for Red Bull House of Art will focus on part sculpture (think makeshift mobiles from the classroom of your youth) and part psychedelic quilts of paperback covers. For both, lighting will be key and used to cast shadows from the mobiles themselves.
Supine says that since he was young, the design of a book cover or a VHS sleeve have always triggered his imagination.
“When I would go to the video store as a kid, I liked to look at the VHS covers and kind of fantasize about what the movie was like,” says Supine, who had a special affinity for anything abstract or visually arresting. “A snake wrapped around a lady or coming out of a skull? That’s thought-provoking when I was 8-years-old.”
There’s a stream-of-consciousness to Supine’s thinking that certainly bleeds into his work — so many images from so many disconnected sources that end up sending a message of sorts. Don’t expect Supine, however, to draw a clean line to the conclusion of what it’s all supposed to mean.
“I’m trying to just put all my energy into being creative and not self-destructive behaviors,” says Supine. “I wanna make stuff that amuses myself that I would want to have made from images that I would want to see.”
By Ryan Patrick Hooper