Artist Judy Sigunick, Remembered | Visual Art | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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Artist Judy Sigunick, Remembered 

Last Updated: 07/01/2019 6:46 am

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Sigunick became enamored of Shakespeare after taking a class on the playwright with Leigh Williams at DCC when both were teaching there. "She made interesting connections and had unusual insights into the plays," recalls Williams, adding that Letters to Shakespeare "is deeply tied to Judy's own past. She saw in his work deep human themes" and brought a feminist twist to her interpretations. Sigunick shared an interest in Shakespeare with her son, Adam, a dialog that brought her much joy and continued into her last days.

click to enlarge Safe Space
  • Safe Space

Sigunick once blogged, "Theater is monumental. It's also mercurial, temporary, and meant for us—suspending time, briefly altering our own realities. Borrowed costumes manipulate our experiences of each character, and the lighting, stage sets, co-opted space, [are] all designed to touch our minds and feelings and coax us into recognition of ourselves in them. Some briefly [sic] and borrowed ideas from Shakespeare's works buzz around my brain, like crazy mosquitoes just waiting to land me a character to feast on, to reflect upon, but mostly to curb assumptions, predicting plots, and prod me along—into worlds full of possibilities never before imagined." Like her muse, Sigunick's own work takes us into uncharted, enchanting territory—a legacy that will live on. Flying Horses

Hello Shakespeare

Even in her nightgown my mom seemed elegant to me. She'd settle in her bed, propped with pillows and write her stories. She captured me, her youngest, with her white refrigerated but quiet sort of beauty and cozy warm undertones beneath a 30 something disengaging melancholy, like she knew, she just knew, she had missed her train. I never actually saw her write her short stories but I knew, from evidence that she did. My sister, Phyllis, knew about the rejection letters.

I didn't.

click to enlarge Exquisite Moments
  • Exquisite Moments

Those stories died with her.

Nothing left of them.

Not now.

If her ghost would come forth and beckon me straight on, neither to the left nor to the right, but straight on Truth, I would walk naked in the forest with mom and talk of her brilliance and introduce her to her Self, an artist who can tell a story like no other.

She would know me without my costumes.

Would that I could take her hand in mine to climb onto the train, just us, knowing we're on track.

click to enlarge Down the Hatch
  • Down the Hatch

Nothing to do.

Zero.

The stage has no stairs. But the horse doesn't need them.

In the beginning I was born an artist.

And a sister.

click to enlarge Saving Pieces
  • Saving Pieces

The wife, student, teacher, caseworker and mom parts came with choices.

Dad loved eating and cooking.

He invented a caramel corn machine.

Mom might have risen to accomplished writer, but instead clung to scripted expectations of her south side of Chicago Jewish community. She dressed* in skirts, high heeled shoes, lived by the Housewife Code, was badgered into submission to rules of young womanhood written by powerfully bad tempered men, one being my grandpa who loved her and sent her, as a free woman, to Northwestern University to study Journalism when such freedoms were uncommon. His gruffness made her cry. His money and power freed her. Frightened and fragile, incapable of confrontation to protect an energetic imagination, she married at 19 years old, managed the household finances and the underpinnings of a fashionably successful family with two cars in the driveway, shopped, cooked, had her nails done (all by 25 years old), sent her three children off to school, accused the colored woman of misdeeds like stealing the scotch, which mom drank, socially, on the rocks. It started when the Poker Game Group strolled in, two by two, husbands and wives, and our dining room table morphed into a world of ashtrays rapidly filling with bad smelling butts, cigarette smoke creeping into my favorite hiding spaces, sounds of swirling ice and screeching laughter from my favorite aunt. Hiding upstairs, I imagined not growing up this way. Mom napped on our couch just about every afternoon, and then, when I was a young teen, she announced her plan to return to school. She completed her undergraduate studies followed by an MA in elementary education. Dad's manhood was startled into submission and he acquiesced for the unbridled pride of the woman he loved and the need of extra income for our middle class family of five. He seemed angry. She dug in and engaged The Battle, admirably. Then a huge graduation celebration, planned and catered by Dad, and off she went to teach in a low income Chicago neighborhood south and west of our statuesque brick home near Lake Michigan, loved by her colleagues and students.

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