Judith Selby Lang
“Vale of Tears”
For years waterfalls have been a recurring theme in Judith’s dreams and in her work. She states,
In Pictures and Tears: A History of People Who Have Cried in Front of Paintings, James Elkins tells the story of paintings that have made people cry. He reprints a letter sent to him describing a trip to Tokyo and the extraordinary scene of the impeccably clad Japanese crowding in to view the painting scroll of Nachi Falls. Even the typically reserved elders were weeping. The Nachi waterfall is a holy site and a stop for travelers on a religious pilgrimage. At 133m it is said to be the highest waterfall in Japan.
Elkins laments the scarcity of tears today, attributing it to the head-over-heart school of art that has made crying passé. Which brings Judith to the question as to whether she had ever been so moved by an artwork that she was brought to tears? Further, could she create art that would bring others to tears? Judith has created a Vale of Tears comprised of long strands of packaging tape with adhered candy, food and cigarette wrappers, plastic bags and other translucent pieces of beach plastic from Kehoe Beach in the Point Reyes National Seashore in Northern California.
For 20 years, Judith and her husband, Richard Lang, have focused their attention on just 1000 yards of tideline where they have collected hundreds of pounds of plastic that has washed ashore. Although the news about plastic pollution is dire, Judith brings an excitement of scouting for treasures and the pleasure of the creative life to an otherwise difficult topic.