August 2011: Peonies, by Judy Hamilton
Header image: Peonies, by Judy Hamilton

Featured Artist: Judy Hamilton

Last updated: August 1, 2011

If you talk to Judy Hamilton, you get the impression that she’s struggling to break free of a mold, but you’ll be hard put to discern the mold she’s trying to break out of. If you look at the body of her work you’ll look in vain for a signature style or favorite genre. The only thing her pieces have in common is that each is distinctive, crisply executed and well done. There is no common theme or medium. A realistic floral, light and sunny, may well be followed by an abstract, introspective piece. A splashy landscape composed of bright color blocks and minimal detail will be followed by a newspaper collage, mind boggling in its intricacy—hundred of tiny pieces combining to form one proud rooster who, despite being composed of bits of paper and other flotsam, is somehow quite realistic.

Judy’s life has also incorporated change. She attended the University of Michigan, Central Michigan University and Michigan State before settling down at Northern when her parents moved to Marquette. She originally studied nursing (tradition), but ended up, in art where she belonged, although she did become a teacher (tradition, again). She earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees after which she taught art in the Rudyard school. Married for forty-six years, she has three children (a boy and two girls) and four and one half grandchildren.

Judy retired from teaching after over thirty years, tired of the paper work, and went on to explore new horizons. Her work since retiring has included substitute teaching, as one would expect, but she has also worked as a cashier in both the St. Ignace and the Brimley casinos; taken the census in both 2000 and 2010 (the DeTour and Kelden areas and the Sault); test driven cars in icy conditions—at night; enumerated migrant workers; collected information on bovine tuberculosis; sold toys in Walmart at Christmas (never again); worked as a club house attendant on the Munoscong Golf Course (nine years), worked restocking, inventorying and cleaning up for a variety of large stores and companies—and continued to paint.

Judy says her strongest love is design. She’s drawn to the clean lines found in architectural drawings and will use such a framework or a random design as the jumping off point for a painting. She admits to a crisis of conscience, torn between painting realistic scenes that will sell and the free form designs that are bursting to get out. She may, in fact, be as trapped by her very competence and ability as she is by her attraction to a solid framework from which to begin. If she were not able to do the expected so very well, she would be freer to try the unusual. (One who lacks competence doesn’t have this problem as he can actually benefit from a free form style where the lack of skill is not so noticeable.)

Judy is a member of the Le Sault Artists Guild and exhibits with the guild at its yearly Alberta House show and as the Artist-of-the-Month at the Bayliss Library. Her last solo exhibit was in Alberta House in May of 2009; her next will be in April of 2013. She also has work in the Alberta House Shop, where she is a frequent volunteer.

Works by Judy Hamilton
Click on a thumbnail to see a larger version.

Chanticleer, by Judy Hamilton

Chanticleer, a mixed media collage, that shared the Second Place Award in the 2010 Folk Art juried exhibition in Alberta House

Peonies, by Judy Hamilton

Peonies, Judy's 2010 Auction donation

Geometric hooked rug, by Judy Hamilton

Geometric hooked rug, about 4' x 8', now in Judy's daughter's kitchen

Sherbet Coast Line, by Judy Hamilton

Sherbet Coast Line

You Can't Go Home Again, by Judy Hamilton

You Can't Go Home Again, an acrylic from the 2009 Home juried exhibition

Sault Area Arts Council Home Page 217 Ferris Street, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783
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