Visual artist Judy Bowman is reaping the harvest of a seed that she’s watered for more than 25 years. Exhibiting her first solo selection of mixed media, ‘Gratiot Griot,’ at Detroit’s Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), Bowman can honestly say that she’s been nurturing this art craft for this exact moment of time in the sunshine.
While preparing for a collaboration at Miami’s Art Basel in December, Bowman reflects on becoming a visual griot through her paintings.
“I feel like when everybody is born, a seed has been ingrained inside of you. The universe gave it to you for a purpose,” says Bowman. “To make the world a better place or to make an impact on the world. A lot of us don’t nurture that seed. But I’m glad that I’m nurturing mine and letting it come to fruition. I am a person who is truly enjoying this chapter of my life. It took a little detour to get here. But I’m here”.
Specializing in mixed media and collage artwork, Bowman perfected her artistry while matriculating 25 years in education, creating beautiful paper collages artwork on her schools bulletin boards. “ I tried to hold on to my art for as long as I could … I had to give it up and go a different path. I got into education but always felt this desire to create and to share my talent,” says Bowman. “I call myself a visual griot. I’m here to tell the story of our culture, our people and what we’re about; how we have relationships with each other, how we helped and supported each other.”
Born and bred in Detroit, Bowman, now a retired DPS principal, works from her home studio in Romulus and is continuously inspired by Detroit, its style and most importantly, its people.
“Detroit has a swag about itself,” says Bowman. “You can look at a person and say, ‘That’s Detroit all day.’ Find the work of Judy Bowman on her website www.judybowman.com and on Instagram at @judybowmanartist. Gratiot Griot will be on view at MOCAD from October 29, 2022 – March 25, 2023.
Laura D. Gibson secured and conducted the interview with Judy Bowman. Laura D. Gibson is a visual and lens-based media artist and independent curator in the city of Detroit. Her work focuses on her familial ties to the city in relation to memory, storytelling, space, and displacement.