Reitz Basket, 2014, bone 28”x28”x28”
Judy Onofrio has always been in love with the stuff of the world. In the first three decades of her fifty-year career, she worked with clay, then built, painted, and often set on fire enormous sculptural constructions. For the past twenty years, she has told optimistic stories about strong women, lush gardens, and circus through her elaborately embellished figurative sculptures.
In 2008, when Onofrio was confronted by a serious illness, everything changed and she turned to her studio practice to process her experience of mortality, renewal and healing. The resulting series mirrored Onofrio’s own journey through illness to renewed health. Always a master of material, Onofrio began to subtly and organically integrate animal bones into her repertoire of sculpted, embellished and painted forms.
Then Onofrio took a leap of faith. The female figure, star of her work for decades, vanished. Sleek, vibrant color mutated into shades of slippery, creamy ivory, and bones became the material of choice. Onofrio’s increasing awareness of the physical and spiritual energy of life lived, held in the bones left behind in the earth, had a profound influence on her understanding of healing and enlightment.
In the series, Earth Bound, Judy Onofrio shows us a heartbreakingly beautiful, poignant and lush, delicate and seductive nature morte throbbing with life. Judy Onofrio’s baroque sculptures pulse with life and confirm that every death is essentially only a passage to a new beginning. Of this work, Judy Onofrio says, “To me, they feel like prayers.”
Onofrio has exhibited extensively nationally & internationally. Her work is in numerous private and public collections including National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia; Frederick R. Weisman Museum, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN; The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MN; North Dakota Museum of Art, Grand Forks, ND; Laumeier Sculpture Park and Museum, St. Louis, MO; McKnight Foundation, Minneapolis, MN; The Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedalia, MO; Hallmark, Kansas City, MO; Arabia Museum, Helsinki, Finland; Cooper-Hewitt Museum, New York, NY; Decorative Arts Museum, Little Rock, AK; Greenville County Museum, Greenville, NC; Montreal Museum of Decorative Arts, Montreal, Canada; Museum of Contemporary Art, Voor Hedendaagsa Kunst Het Kruithuis, Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands; and others.