The Boston Globe
Friday, November 15, 2002
by Cate McQuaid
Judy Motzkin: Passages
At: Zeitgeist Gallery
1353 Cambridge St.
Judy Motzkin's mixed-media wall hangings at Zeitgeist Gallery come across not as the sites or relics of a ritual but as rituals themselves. They may be inert objects, assembled in clay boxes, but Motzkin fashions them to collect and hold a transformational energy.
The box becomes a stage; its inhabitants are players. "Listen" is a tall, narrow piece with an oblong, clay head lying sadly on its side on a shelf over a pile of stones in which little vessels nestle. Singed wisps of paper rise over the head, like dreams lost. Absence is palpable, but so is comfort; it's as if Motzkin has given form to some interior darkness, and in doing so, has healed a little.
She paints inside boxes in the "Passages" series, introducing light and gateways into what we expect to be the dark. In one, a green box opens to a scene of stacks of clay disks, like stones rounded by water.
In the back, she paints an arched doorway, with light pouring through it, suggesting hope an openness beyond this dark place--even thougth the dark place is in its own way beautiful. Patience and compassion radiate from these works, as if pain suffered is being honored, rather than suppressed or resisted.
The artist also offers Iris prints that share the visual theme of stones, piled or scattered. In "Reflection" they shift unter a transparent mask of sun-touched water. The solidity of the stones, the fluidity of the water, and the fleeting, changeable light combine to make everything appear illusory. A reflection of a face dashes across the surface in one corner it will come and go as easily as wink of sunlight.
Motzkin includes giclees of garlic plants-- though deft and lovely, they feel out of place in the company of the other works. The show could have been better edited, but the work, earthy and sad as it is, is a balm.