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About the Photographer
American, b. 1953
I began to envision texts in the earth much like the archeological fragments I had been photographing, as lyrical moments in which the traditional text-image relationship is inverted as we read the photographs and view the texts.
— Judy Natal
Its title referencing the writings and work of Earthworks sculptor Robert Smithson, Judy Natal's EarthWords is a series of selenium toned gelatin silver prints made between 1999 and 2001. As an artist-in-residence at Joshua Tree National Park, Natal noticed the various intersections of language and landscape within the park: petroglyphs, graffiti, and a series of granite boulders carved with the philosophical rantings of Swedish homesteader John Samuelson in 1927. Related series that followed the EarthWords pictures include Joshua Tree A-Z (2001), The Hermetic Alphabet (2002), Hocus Pocus A-Z (2002), and The Neon Boneyard Las Vegas A-Z (2003).
Judy Natal received a BFA in photography/design theory from University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas (1975) and an MFA in photography from Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York (1978). EarthWords has been exhibited at California Museum of Photography in Riverside, California (2002) and at Light Work in Syracuse, New York (2004). Other solo exhibitions of Natal's work have been held at Visual Studies Workshop Gallery, Rochester, New York; Hammond Art Gallery, Fitchburg State College, Fitchburg, Massachusetts; Photographic Resource Center, Boston; and The Photography Gallery at the University of Oregon, Eugene. The Museum of Contemporary Photography exhibited Natal's A Chorus of Stone in 1998. Her work is held in the permanent collections of the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, Arizona; Polaroid Collection, Cambridge, Massachusetts; International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester, New York; Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; Museo Internacional De Electrografia, Cuenca, Spain; and Museum of Art, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Natal has been a professor of photography at Columbia College Chicago since 1997.