Judith Wray
& the Visual Arts League

"Bumpy 2003" by Shankar Barua


Where do I begin?

A carved telephone book?

 leather bound,

"let your fingers do the walking" went an old ad for the yellow pages...

These pages illustrate a transition


On the left are Laci's fingers and my head! We caste his feet first in bronze and then moved on to his fingers and then his ear. Later, we would laugh about having a group show.

Laci taught me a new medium when he introduced me to computers and showed me how to write html.

No one had ever baked a loaf of bread for me before. Laci loves to cook. He was baking bread and had enough dough for two loaves. He made his loaf first, all neat and straight and orderly. Then he came to mine, and made mine in many sections, all wild and crazy. When he presented it to me, all hot and brown and crusty and smelling wonderful I wanted to do something more than eat it. Commemorate it!

I bound it with twine and shellacked it all over several times. On the top of each curved section I wrote the verses from a poem by Thoreau. Those words run just as sinuously through our days and all our creating together in the last few years.

The Poem by Thoreau

"We must learn to re-awaken and keep ourselves awake

Not by mechanical aids, but by the infinite expectation of the dawn which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep.

I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor.

It is something to be able to paint a particular picture or to carve a statue and so to make a few things beautiful.

But it is far more glorious to carve and paint the atmosphere and medium through which we look. Which morally we can do.

To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.

Everyman is tasked to make his life even in its details worthy of the contemplation of his most elevated and critical hour."


The blood red story behind the bread..

This is actually important to me..
the way that art works.
The way it does not matter 2 cents that Thoreau is dead or not.
Art lies dormant waiting to snare.
The poem by Thoreau  was on a tea box above our stove for years, till one day,
reaching up,
the words grabbed me by the throat.
The grants people always make me laugh and cry, they ask questions like "how
many people were affected by the artist on such and such a day, (to justify their
giving of funding).
I remember once I was at a copying business, busily copying, and I looked out the
to the train station across the street.
There was a billboard.
Rolling Rock Beer was being advertised..
but more than that..
Jim Morrison was
Jim Morrison was dead (The Door's)
"Same as it always was" was what was
but it was not written the same as it always was,
and the whole experience was an art experience
one did not go into a museum for,
dressed, prepared, ready to be enlightened.
Art is a funny thing.
I don't like commerce, the selling of art
but I do like the way death doesn't have to stop anything.

Kind of makes life worth living.

We all have beginnings! Mine didn't begin with me, nobody's does!
My father inherited a Chapel in the woods and got to be minister by default,
slid right into it, singing his off key heart out and getting my sister and I to come along for the ride.
I don't think it is important where people are in space or time.
Somebody said "Let death have no dominion",
well that's how I feel.
It doesn't.

We work, play and communicate together, leaping boundaries all the time.
( Good tried and true example: Libraries  )

So what has this got to do with Digital artists?

They possess skills which allow their creativity to take multiple leaps past any art form previously expressed.
New technology has unleashed creativity from a thing with solid form to an idea in a virtual realm.
Houdini asks 100 people from an audience to come to the stage and stick out a finger to levitate a large body and together ..lift!
Together we can levitate large projects barely trying.
The community draws value and inspiration from artists of all kinds.
Together, we are an engine for change, to re invent, to explore and problem solve.

I began levitating unusual arts projects ( using who and what is all around), using simple copying machines, then Photoshop and the Internet.
The projects were born beginning about 12 years ago with a  collage using the photo copied images of hands and arms and even a few bones..

The night we began to assemble all the collected images, Mike came and sat in the hallway helping to cut them all out like paper dolls.
We took his 50 arms and created a wave spreading out on one side.

It was the Arms for Art project which began to cut a path in front of me, leading me along. I received envelopes of photo copied hands in the mail from strangers. There was a feeling of being on target and a momentum going past myself as though some flow or current had been tapped into.


The collage of arms was 31 ft. wide and 12 ft high. The section shown here is the top, center portion. For the few weeks leading up to its assemblage, we made a call for photo copied arms and hands. Different color paper was welcomed. Different sizes were welcomed. No maximum quantity was stipulated.

Seniors lined up at the YWCA in New Brunswick by the copying machine, chuckling that this was unusual and fun.

Children from New Brunswick's Head Start program were welcomed to Kinkos ( when it used to be across from the New Brunswick train station ). The manager passed out paper and crayons and the children spread out across the rugged floor and waited their turn to have their little hands photocopied in both black & white and color.

Michael Preston, from Middlesex, NJ made 50 large copies of his long, (and hairy arm.)


the Wizard behind the projects

Digital Projects & Shows Sponsored
The Elephant Project, 2001
[image not received]

The idea was that the images were links to the artists' internet servers and could change or disappear at any time. Some of them eventually did disappear. We all moved on. We liked the idea. One could continue the landscape by scrolling to the side, or down into the ground! At any moment the images might change. The images were also clic-able, so you could visit the person behind the image.  

University of Medicine and Dentistry
Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

In 1995 Visual Arts League (VAL)) was invited by Rob Laumbach and Scott Woska, student leaders of the Healing Arts Club (HARTS). Since then, VAL has acted as a bridge between artists and the medical school, bringing work in by professional artists, schools, and orchestrating interactive group projects.

The Administration of UMDNJ & the medical students of HARTS
have provided an arena for creative community development.

Projects begun at UMDNJ have gone on to Lincoln Center's Cork Gallery, NY; the Stone Museum, Jamesburg, NJ; the Atlantic City Seafood Festival each June; and local libraries.



The Floating Art Project , 2002
[starbg1.jpg ~ not received]

No gravity! We invited small images to float together and have kept them up floating for 2 years.

NOW, April, 2004, the project took a leap with the Pipe Dream show. The floating objects on the new pages are tennis balls from the Citizen School Ball Pipe

(below: a sampling of both virtual and real)

WINDOWS-The Transparent Flower Show, 2001

"The Transparent Flower Show"..a visual experiment in working and playing together. Basically, it is a transparent / translucent, photocopied images show with a floral theme. Scanned flowers, painted flowers, e mailed, multiplied, reduced, enlarged, superimposed, floral in feeling! Abstracts...patterns created with all the incoming images, combining them, coming together from all over the country.

For the month of May, the show developed and filled a one hundred foot glass wall at The Old Bridge Public Library. To show simultaneously in two places, we cloned the imagery and took half to Newark, University of Medicine and Dentistry and half to the Old Bridge Library. Multiply! Add! Divide!

After that it moved to the South River Library where a piece was created by a group of young people and we framed them all in a hoola hoop. Then the show moved to the Metuchen Public Library for another month. Then on to the University of Medicine and Dentistry in Piscataway, NJ. Next it went to the Cork Gallery, Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, NY. All the while, the show was posted to the internet so all the participants can follow it along.
[kidscambridge_small_small.jpg ~ not received]

Phillip T. Baker, the Rock & Roll artist, worked all night and then went to Cambridge School in Kendall Park, NJ and worked some more. This piece was created by 19 little children in the Head Start program, 3 and 4 yr olds, and measures about 48" across and is done on transparent, heavy vinyl. Using non-toxic paints, the children took turns by Phillip's side squishing their little fingers into the brightly colored paint and then creating an impression on the vinyl surface. By noon we had achieved the effect seen here. Within a few days the photos were on the web site.

As the children slowly moved around concentrically, artist Judy Wray followed with a heat gun drying the paint to prevent smearing. At another table, children were coloring fish for the "Traveling Magnetic Show" which moves around towns on the fire engine red Val VAN, the transportation for the Visual Arts League which doubles rolling road show. The finished piece joined the "Flower Show" January 2001 at  the Cork Gallery, downstairs from Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, New York. 

The children's flower piece is in the collection of work hanging at the South Brunswick Library in the children's room and it is featured in "The Book of Hope", by Icelandic Poet, Birgitta Jonsdottir. (The Dalai Lama and Lawrence Ferlenghetti are in the same book.)

The Internet was used throughout the project to teach many things all at once and add mileage to what was a few hours experience.

  Can we bring great art into

  our communities as

  opposed to budget art?

  Art feeds us -

  what will we serve up as a community?

  This mural has not happened, not yet!

"The Great Grape House", by Robert Rakita, Union, NJ
Art in Our Communities, 2004 [http://www.valweb.org/NewsLetter/muralstodiefor.htm]

The Dream Precedes the Act. We are the dream weavers.


The New Brunswick Food show, 2002

As a tangent to a real one day show of art & food sampling in local restaurants, we began an Internet Food show of our own. ( A few tidbits )

lemonval_small.jpg straw1val_small.jpg
Dian Sirken, Freehold, NJ
Lica's Freezer, Ansgard, Thomson

TOWN CLEANERS Internet Experimental Project, 2004

(at left: The first design to come in. Ansgard Thomson, Alberta, Canada)

On these web pages began an Internet project using the boarded up windows of vacant buildings (or partially vacant), experimenting with digital artists from around the world.

 I would like to get people thinking  creatively about ways to use negative space in positive ways, bringing art out onto the street, creating an exciting interchange using digital art which can easily involve high school seniors in computer art programs with digital artists from around the world. Kind of a low budget, world school using negative space in a positive way.

Together we can impart integrity to a world which is so divided by specialists, nobody having the scope of view or time to step back and create in a holistic way. Artists of all kinds function as roving free radicals knitting good things together for its own sake.

left above: Shankar Barua, New Delhi, India ~ right above: Robert Rakita, Union NJ
below: some others (apologies for not getting the contributor names - ed.)

Judith Wray
Visual Arts League
1007 Old Bridge Tpk.
East Brunswick, NJ 08816

e-mail: valweb@valweb.org
wwweb: www.valweb.org