After finishing the Esther mosaics which followed the transformation of a shy, frightened and passive young teenager into a self-empowered young Queen, I opted for another powerful figure from biblical times, who, like Esther, saves her people from complete annihilation through courageous deeds that require much self sacrifice.
Judith in many respects is the flip side of Esther. The story begins with her as a mature woman, a widow with no children who confidently assures the victory of her people through her machinations and with divine help. Unlike Esther she is a warrior from the start. There is no transformation of personality here, only sheer determination and what appears to be an invulnerability to fear or intimidation. Her strong and energetic personality calls for action images full of movement and dramatic gestures, a complete opposite approach to the Queen Esther’s static compositions, quieter poses and expressive but not overly emotional facial expressions.
Much like in the Esther Series, there is narrative continuity in the Judith works, not only left to right as in the Esther mosaics, but past to present as well. Through the placing of the Judith compositions on white sketchbook pages with perforated tops and with the transition from the black and white pencil sketch to monochromatic 2D and finally to full colour, I am portraying a gradual rejuvenation of an ancient story through its retelling. The sketchbook page with its black and white graphite drawing is a 21st century prop. The images of the heroine’s plight and fighting spirit dressed in biblical clothing and placed in ancient surroundings provide a bridge across the centuries. Judith, the victorious warrior with courage and allegiance to her people, commits to and faithfully accomplishes her mission. In my works she becomes relevant to the contemporary woman in our society. As the black and white sketch unfolds onto the mosaic, slowly repairing, vivifying and reinvigorating itself into a full blown colour figure which reaches wholeness in the final scenes, the inherent symbolism becomes a continuous journey between antiquity and the present day.
I express the series’ fluidity of movement through dramatic poses, theatrical gestures and emotional expressions. Much like the Esther Series, the Judith works feature characteristics of stage lighting and stage depth of field. Conversely, the Judith series does not rely on the Byzantine look and feel of the Esther works. Instead, a more Baroque approach is conveyed, bold and action-filled without the Gold tesserae abundance of the Esther Series.