Local weekly paper covering regional news and events gets an interview with artist Judi Tavil. by Tara Collins AKA Twisted T

Serendipity. Instinct. Timing. These three words ran through my head as I listened to Judi Tavill tell her story. All young Judi wanted for her future as she prepared for college, was to graduate from RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) and be a Fashion Designer. It was all planned out. Instead, she trusted her instinct and took another path being pulled toward Washington University School of Art (St. Louis).
At Washington University, it all came together for her. Doors opened for her that may not have, had she gone the original way and attended RISD. Recently, Judi turned 50 and started reviewing her life and art path. She turned inward, trusted her instinct and changed paths, once again. Judi Tavill is a ceramic artist and sculptor who works and lives in Rumson.

What brought you to create the art that you make?

I was the head designer/design director of Lilly Pulitzer creating everything from textile print
art to garment silhouettes to in-store shop illustrations. I left to start my own line until my first son, (Musician, Jake) was born. I went back to consulting in fashion and created the first “bear” outfits for Build-A-Bear Workshop, among other fashion and textile design
projects. After having my second son, (Artist, Sam), I found clay was off and running. I moved
from creating wheel thrown functional pottery, to deeply carved and textured decorative
pottery and objects. It was great and hard and I loved it until I wanted to “express” more in
my art.

What inspires you?

Inspiration comes from the connectedness of nature and our human connection to nature. I
look to the structures I see in trees, plant life, rock and coral formations and see the direct comparison to that of human bodies and the systems within: vascular, muscular, skeletal. The clear similarities further emphasize the human connection with the earth itself. Basically, we are all ultimately connected, which in a way is a lovely idea, BUT it can be uncomfortable and messy, but it JUST IS.

You recently changed your art from small ceramics to large scale sculptures, tell
me about that change.

I started to rethink my art. I was successful with making functional art: teapots, cups, vases
(and her famous chip/dip bowl), and the decorative pieces, but I wasn’t saying anything.
When I turned 50, I figured it’s now or never and asked myself, “If I could do whatever I
wanted, what do I ultimately want to do?” I wanted my art to be unique and to affect people.
I also wanted it to be different from my functional art – art that you can’t quite figure out right away. I started thinking about energy and connection. My current sculptural series titled, “Entanglements” addresses an awareness of self and society. Humanity being inextricably connected biologically, environmentally, societally — forcing us to contend with the truth that if we cannot find a way to “come together,” we break apart. What you can’t tell from photos of the work, is that the sculptures are pieces that connect together. So, it can be changed by interlocking them in a different way. Or, a collector can “grow” the art, by adding another section to the existing piece at a later date.

How do you think the community can better support their artists?

I think it is important to have art in public spaces to expose people in their daily lives to visual art. I would love to have someone during their day, not actively seeking out art, but just going through their day, notice art and have it effect their perspective at that moment. I feel there are many reasons why people are not exposed to art and/or think they cannot relate. I think it is important to ease people in to see things they are not familiar with and to experience how visual art affects you and can get into your psyche. Getting art into public places and letting the community see what is happening right under their noses may just pull their interest into bringing more art into their private homes. Or, to appreciate it and support more public installations. The community can bring attention to the artists by sharing images, art events and including the local artists in opportunities where their work can gain greater exposure.

Check out Judi’s art at:, IG: @juditavillart FB: juditavillart