Judi Iranyi was born in Hungary, and lived in several places before coming to San Francisco in 1971. After her retirement, she dedicated her time to photography, and her work includes street and travel photography, portraits, documentary work, still life photography, and botanicals. Her solo exhibition, Mantel, looks at the symbolism of mantels and fireplaces.
Mantel is part of the Griffin’s Home Views exhibition. You can see Judi’s work on the walls of our Founder’s gallery until December 5th. We asked Judi some questions about her background and her artistic process, and we are excited to share what she had to say.
1. Tell us how you first connected to the Griffin Museum.
I live in San Francisco , CA. I have never been to the the Museum, only online. This year I became a member and I was fortunate to have a phone conversation with Paula Tognarelli, who kindly critiqued some of my work and choose eight images for the “Home views” exhibition.
2. How do you involve photography in your everyday life? Can you tell us about any images or artists that have caught your attention recently?
For the last 50+ years, I have always had a small camera with me at all times. I photograph images that caught my attention and added them to my archives, to be used later. I was lucky to be able to travel all around the world and in the United States. I also photograph my family and friends. I use photography as a record for memories, when I look at an image it brings back all the details related to the image. I photographed my son
during his whole life and was able to make a monogram with his images.
Recently I have admired images made by Janet Milhome, Sheila Metzner, Olivia Parker,
Marie Cosindas, Michael Kenna, Don Worth, Fran Forman, Maggie Taylor, Nick Brandt,
Michael Eastman, Josephine Sacabo , Brigite Carnochan, Abelardo Morell and many
3. Please tell us a little about your series Mantel, and how it was conceived.
This has been a difficult year of sheltering-in-place and not being able to socialize in person with my community. This has forced me to rethink how I go about making new work. I feel that I am in a time of transition. I am not sure where it will take me. Home has become very important during the pandemic. I have been interested in mantels and fireplaces and the symbolism they represent. Some cultures believe them to be a shrine, idols or images of deities were placed on the mantle, a fire was lit, prayers were offered and some times offerings were
made by burning possessions or trinkets of a departed person. This past year having time, I started making composites using images from my archives and new images of botanicals created during my walks in Golden Gate Park and my garden.
4. Has there been a Griffin Museum exhibition that has particularly engaged or moved
Historias fragmentadas by Claudia Ruiz Gustafson, because I am also an immigrant.
5. What is your favorite place to escape to?
Mendocino County in California
6. What is a book, song or visual obsession you have at the moment?
The song “Imagine” by John Lennon, the lyrics are so powerful in contrast to the cur-
rent world situation. If it was only possible.
7. If you could be in a room with anyone to have a conversation, who would it be and what would you talk about?
Carlo Levi, who was an Italian painter, writer, Medical Doctor and activist (Nov 1902-
January 1975). We would talk about his book !Christ stopped at Eboli” and the time and experiences he had while in exile in the poorest undeveloped region of Basilicata, Italy. We
would also talk about his paintings of the peasants of the region.