Holy Profane / Permitted Forbidden
Gouache, ink and pencil on watercolor paper, 9” X 11” / 2018

Raised amidst Yiddish endearments, I learned how to draw very young. Political activism in high school, including Ban the Bomb, Civil Rights, and Anti-War demonstrations, led to a few years on Magic Forest Farm, a leaderless, egalitarian, West Coast commune. My drawings of country hippie life, (under the name Judith St. Soleil) were published in several books, including Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Epilogue. Thus I became a professional artist before I even graduated college.

Along with raising three children, I studied Art and Psychology at Cooper Union, Lone Mountain College and USC, all the while drawing, painting, making collages, publishing artist’s books, teaching art in colleges and writing for ARTweek Magazine (1986-1991), and since 2000, as Art Editor of NASHIM, Journal of Jewish Women’s Studies and Gender Issues (U.of Indiana Press).  

Since 1993 I have been designing and publishing limited edition and unique books, under the imprint Bright Idea Books. These have been acquired by numerous public and private collections, including Yale U, The New York Public Library, UCLA, U. of WA, U. of Denver, U. of Michigan, Arthur Jaffe Center for Book Arts, and UC, Berkeley.

My book Life Support Invitation to Prayer, (Penn State Press Graphic Medicine Series, 2019) was reviewed by Julie Stein for the Winter Issue 2020 of Rain Taxi.

In February 2022, an online interview with Rain Taxi’s Eric Lorberer, was conducted with myself and CS Giscombe about our book Train Music Writing and Pictures, (Omnidawn Publishing/ Oakland, 2021)

 I worked on this book, which was originally called Praise Emptiness, all during the Covid pandemic, with Philip in LA and me in Jerusalem. Considering art from every era of my adult life, he chose to include so many, that Philip eventually changed the title to Praise Emptiness Essays Verbal and Visual.

I would like to mention how I came to use hand-drawn letter forms for the book cover and chapter titles. I was at a friend’s house and a book cover with a hand-drawn font caught my eye. It was Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. I loved how it looked and tracked down the designer, Jon Gray (who goes by 318.gray). I was inspired by his work to hand draw the words on the book cover and all the chapter titles. This gives, I think, the weighty content of the book a bit of a cheering up, “Unhappiness,” on page 33, being the best example.

— Judith Margolis