heARTbeat: Judith Braun Takes Finger Painting to a New Level

ColumnHow many times did your mother tell you not to draw on the walls?

Carrying out the most rudimentary of artistic endeavors begins with our ten digits. As any kindergartner will attest, finger painting precedes all other painting techniques. One only needs a mark-making medium to produce art (or a reason to break out the non-toxic cleaners) with tools we carry around at all times: our fingers.

Yet it’s rare to see such sophisticated work created simply by using fingerprints and, in Judith Braun‘s case, fine powder from ground charcoal. Braun’s series “Fingerings” offers extraordinary examples of the technique.

Braun says:

“Fingerings” continue my use of carbon medium by dipping my fingers in charcoal to draw directly on the wall, sometimes with both hands simultaneously to the extent of arms’ reach. This allows the inherent symmetry of the body to generate a gestural vocabulary of mark making.

Braun’s gestures are elegant, and can be arresting in their complexity. For a week in February 2012, she worked in front of a live audience at the Chrysler Museum of Art at Norfolk, Virginia to create a 50-foot mural using nothing but her bare hands and charcoal dust to create a piece called “Diamond Dust.”

Braun explains her style:

Abstraction keeps the images free to be anything, while the symmetry resolves that fluidity into something, like liquid energy crystallizing. The crystal metaphor is also reflected in the carbon medium of graphite that, under heat and pressure, becomes a diamond. Working within constraints prompts a proliferation of possibilities that self organize into groups and subgroups, from which I then choose some to render carefully by hand…with “diamond dust.”

Finger painting dust into art is Braun’s talent. Expanding our awareness of the simple act of marking the walls seems to be her calling.

“Diamond Dust” can be viewed at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia until July 1, 2012.

Inspired by a post on Colossal.

Images:  Judith Braun & The Chrysler Museum of Art

Eco, trends, art, creativity and how they tumble through social media to shape culture fascinate EcoSalon columnist Dominique Pacheco. Her trends blog, mixingreality, speaks to these topics daily, and here at EcoSalon, she takes a weekly look at the intersection of eco and art. We call it heARTbeat.

Dominique Pacheco

Dominique Pacheco is the author of EcoSalon's weekly heARTbeat column.