Tom Judd was born in Lawrenceville, New Jersey in 1952, but grew up from the age of two in Salt Lake City, Utah. Judd attended the University of Utah and the Philadelphia College of Art where he studied with Rafael Ferrer, Bob Kulicke, and Larry Day, graduating with a BFA in painting in 1975.
Judd first exhibited his art work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1979, where at 25 he was included in a survey show entitled "Contemporary Drawing: Philadelphia" curated by Ann Percy and Frank Goodyear. The museum purchased a work from that exhibit for their permanent collection.
Judd went on to exhibit his work in distinguished commercial galleries in Philadelphia and New York City, and in 1984 he was given a solo exhibit at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts which purchased work for their permanent collection. In 1990, Judd had a ten-year retrospective at the Philadelphia Art Alliance.
He is represented in Museums and commercial galleries across the United States and Canada.
In 1999 I went on a river trip down the main fork of the Salmon River in Idaho with my nine year old son Will and a group of friends. Deep in the interior of the wilderness we came across a compound where a former insurance salesman transformed himself into a mystic mountain man. He built his compound of small cabins with whatever was at hand.
My favorite room in the compound of cabins was his sleeping quarters. The walls were covered in wallpaper samples, yellowed and peeling. At the time I didn't realize what an impact this experience would have on me.
My work since then has taken on the personality trait of a found object. In this way, my art suggests the finding of an artifact from another time. It imparts the contradictory sense of loss and discovery on the viewer which I felt upon encountering the hermit's compound.
"Field Guide" was a natural extension of the work I've been doing since my Idaho trip. When Barbi Reed suggested sending me topographical survey maps of Idaho's national forests, it was the perfect vehicle for an exhibition in Sun Valley.
The idea of a "field guide" was both appealing and humorous to me. I've always included birds, insects, plant life and animals in my work. However, I don't consider myself to be a Naturalist. I don't pay much attention to the English names of plants and animals, let alone their Latin genus and species. For me it's more about remembering the Forest Rangers' office on family vacations. The combination of the smell of pine and the pictures of the wild kingdom that would lie just around the next bend was a feeling of excitement and inspiration. As with most of the things I like, it is more the romance in the memory than an interest in science.
There is also an association with childhood and a sense of adventure. At the end of the vacation, I loved taking home the souvenirs, replete with deer heads, birds, postcards and maps. In this way, "Field Guide" is my homage to this particularly American experience.