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Introduction

Judith M. Pratt (b. Charlottesville, Virginia) explores the history of Central Virginia's Piedmont region and its deep-rooted, complexities through graphically strong, multi-layered works on paper. 

Tephra ICA at Signature, located at the Signature apartment building in Reston, VA, is an innovative satellite gallery space that presents a year-round schedule of exhibitions featuring work by local and regional artists as selected by Tephra ICA curatorial staff. Provided in partnership with Boston Properties and Bozzuto. Due to COVID-19, access to the Signature building is currently limited to residents only.

‘My work explores memory, the loss of historical accuracy, and the legacy of racism in the Piedmont Region of Central Virginia where I was born and raised." - Judith M. Pratt

Installation view

Installation view

Pratt’s tightly composed linework exposes the allure of the region through repeated depictions of organic elements, such as wood grain, water, and land elevations, resulting in a hypnotic effect. The paintings are composed of overlapping lines of acrylic paint on durable paper that is produced from 100% domestic cotton. The raw material directly connects the physical work to the history of chattel slavery in Virginia that is referenced throughout the exhibition.

un(disclosed) highlights what is seen and unseen as the artist explores historic racism and additional truths that are being further examined through archeologic discoveries and today’s pressing issues. Pratt’s research on Central Virginia’s foothills using topographical maps, diagrams of trans-Atlantic slave trade ships, and historical records of unidentified slave burial grounds collectively provide a framework for complex visual parables and abstracted landscapes where an indisputable tension is contained.

(Untitled) Piedmont no. 7, 2018

(Untitled) Piedmont no. 7, 2018

“In my research, the topographical maps of the Piedmont and the repeated contour lines of the foothill elevations become translated into the abstracted landscape drawings in the Piedmont Series. From these drawings new works evolved called the Station Series that reference the earlier patterns plus add a new element of smaller and repeated rectangular shapes within a central rectangular form.” - Judith M. Pratt

A sense of place is profound in Pratt’s practice and the inspiration from location extends to where she works – a studio converted from a family barn located near her birthplace. Her research pertaining to that land’s history of dehumanization imposed by slavery is strongly felt by Pratt and serves as the core motivation for her work. As a White southern artist Pratt feels she has a responsibility to highlight contrasts between the idyllic scenery of rural Virginia and the region’s history. Pratt’s intention is to provide an opportunity to acknowledge her generational continuum in an effort to offer personal amends for racial transgressions.

 (Untitled) Station no. 3, 2020

(Untitled) Station no. 3, 2020

"I titled the works Stations as a reference to the Stations of the Cross, which in the Christian faith is to make a spiritual pilgrimage through contemplation of the Passion of Christ. While that is not my faith, the universal notion of an individual being supported, or not supported, by the broader community spoke to me. (Untitled) Station no.1 was created as I witnessed the uplifting support for the Black Lives Matter movement, the closest thing to National Prayer that I have witnessed. In (Untitled) Station no.2 and (Untitled) Station no.3 the central rectangles tilt and fall. To me they reference the Black victims of racially motivated slayings and show an inert community withdrawing from the central figure. " - Judith M. Pratt

(Untitled) Station no. 2, 2020

(Untitled) Station no. 2, 2020

"This central rectangular form is surrounded by contour lines and peaks. The abstracted, rectangular iconography becomes the symbol for slave burial grounds found in historical records. I repeat the rectangular shape throughout the works to remind myself and the viewer that thousands of enslaved people are buried throughout our community and beyond Virginia in unmarked graves, depriving African American families of their history and their legacy as human beings." - Judith M. Pratt

(Untitled) Piedmont no. 6, 2018

(Untitled) Piedmont no. 4, 2018

Biography

Pratt’s has held recent solo exhibitions at Second Street Gallery, Charlottesville, VA; Hillyer Art Space, Washington, DC; Philip Johnson Crescent Towers, Tysons, VA; and the Alexandria Commission for the Arts, Alexandria, VA. Pratt was a 2020 Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize semifinalist. Her work was included in Arlington Art Center’s 2020 regional biennial, Assembly, Arlington, VA; Notes of Color at the Athenaeum Museum, Alexandria, VA; and Sculpture Now 2020 at McLean Project for the Arts, McLean, VA.

Pratt's work can be found in the collections of Abramson & Associates, Cerberonics Corporation, GTE Telenet Corporation, Lockheed Corporation, Rozansky and Kay Corporation, as well as numerous private collections.

Pratt has been awarded residencies at VCCA's Moulin à Nef in Auvillar, France; the University of Virginia, Pembroke, VA; and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Amherst, VA. Her work has been reviewed in ARTnews, The Washington Post, Hyperallergic, and East City Art.

Pratt holds a Master of Fine Arts from American University in Washington, DC, and an Master of Art in Modern and Contemporary Art History from Christie’s, New York, NY. She lives and works in the Washington, DC area.

View Exhibition Checklist Here

Selected Works

Selected Works Thumbnails
(Untitled) Station no. 1, 2020

(Untitled) Station no. 1, 2020

(Untitled) Station no. 2, 2020

(Untitled) Station no. 2, 2020

(Untitled) Station no. 3, 2020

(Untitled) Station no. 3, 2020

(Untitled) Piedmont no. 3, 2018

(Untitled) Piedmont no. 3, 2018

(Untitled) Piedmont no. 4, 2018

(Untitled) Piedmont no. 4, 2018

(Untitled) Piedmont no. 5, 2018

(Untitled) Piedmont no. 5, 2018

(Untitled) Piedmont no. 6, 2018

(Untitled) Piedmont no. 6, 2018

(Untitled) Piedmont no. 7, 2018

(Untitled) Piedmont no. 7, 2018

(Untitled) Station no. 1, 2020

(Untitled) Station no. 1, 2020

(Untitled) Station no. 2, 2020

(Untitled) Station no. 2, 2020

(Untitled) Station no. 3, 2020

(Untitled) Station no. 3, 2020

(Untitled) Piedmont no. 3, 2018

(Untitled) Piedmont no. 3, 2018

(Untitled) Piedmont no. 4, 2018

(Untitled) Piedmont no. 4, 2018

(Untitled) Piedmont no. 5, 2018

(Untitled) Piedmont no. 5, 2018

(Untitled) Piedmont no. 6, 2018

(Untitled) Piedmont no. 6, 2018

(Untitled) Piedmont no. 7, 2018

(Untitled) Piedmont no. 7, 2018

Videos

Artist Talk: Judith M. Pratt

Artist Talk: Judith M. Pratt

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