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Judd Schiffman brings story of self-identification, mysticism to State College through ceramic art display

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Mystic Vision ceramics

Currently inside State College’s art gallery Maake Projects is “Mystic Vision,” a ceramic show designed to express self-realization in the natural world.

The exhibition, which solo artist Judd Schiffman created, is available to view through Dec. 11 at the gallery, which is located on 1358 S. Atherton St.

Emily Burns, the founder of Maake Projects, said there are never enough galleries or publications to share an artist’s work.

“So that’s why I initially created [the gallery],” Burns said. “Because I felt like there weren’t enough places for people to do that.”

Based in State College, Maake reaches audiences around the world.

“We are trying to reach a really big audience virtually,” Burns said. “The physical space is the latest addition, everything we did before was meant to be disseminated.”

Schiffman said he found an open call for the gallery to present his current work.

“I saw the pictures of beautiful arch windows… ideal place to show my work,” Schiffman said.

Schiffman said the inspiration behind his ceramic show is “a dream experience, or it could be like being alone in nature, but it’s all about a moment when you feel like you’re seeing the world for what it is.”

Burns said Schiffman’s work is made up of many small pieces.

“They’re designed so that each piece kind of fits together like a puzzle,” Burns said. “It’s really quite a technical process to get these on the wall, and it takes a tremendous amount of time.”

Schiffman said he always enjoyed drawing as a kid, but dealing with depression fueled his journey to where he is today. He started meditating and traveling and was “spending a lot of time connecting with nature.”

He said he was “learning about spirituality and discovering who [he] was as a person.” Then, he started to paint again — but in a serious way.

Schiffman said while he spent some time in Germany doing a residency, he reflected on his grandmother’s immigration from Poland to the United States right before World War II, where several of her siblings died in concentration camps.

This reflection, he said, led him to consider his identity as a Jewish American person and to make objects he thought told the story of who he was.

“Through meditation, to traveling, through being in nature and also thinking about animals...I tell my own story,” Schiffman said.

Bonnie McEachren, the gallery assistant at Maake, said “his interests in spirituality and mysticism, nature and animals being symbolic” is the basis behind his art.

Schiffman said he had a “really great experience” as a visiting artist at Penn State.

“The students there were connecting to my work, and I felt a connection to them.”

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