Review: ‘Animal Crackers’ blends fantasy, reality

Tom Shafer January 29, 2015, Journal and courrier

I must admit that when I heard that there was an exhibit in the Shook Room at the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette consisting of mosaics and fiber art, I was not particularly interested in seeing it.

Ceramic shards and fiber-constructed animals didn’t fulfill my expectations of “what art is”! Well, this abstract painter/art reviewer has again been humbled due to preconceived notions and an obvious lack of gray cells.

Judy Titche has filled the room with constructions that are interesting, colorful, thoughtful, excellently produced and plain-old fun to look at. I felt excited and filled with a sense playfulness when I walked into the brightly lighted space.

Titche spells it out completely in her artist’s statement: “Contrasting textures, hard and soft, fragmented stories represented in broken shards and pieces, along with tightly felted wool and fabrics, will lead you through a fantasy-back-to-reality-world of animals we love and that fascinate us.”

The artist uses the pique-assiette method of adding colorful ceramic shards to pre-made 3-D forms. This system of using pieces of broken ceramics to decorate walls and various three-dimensional forms, it is thought, originated with Raymond Edouard Isadore, who for 30 years added decorative ceramic shards to every surface of his home known as the Maison Picassiette, which is located outside the city center of Chartres, France.

In “King Fish,” a mosaic and mixed media wall mounted fish on a plaque, Titche has presented us with a tongue-in-cheek anglers’ trophy. The fish is completely covered with a brightly colored array of ceramics pieces and glass. This “king” starts with a crown and ends with a tail of feathers.

Most of the work shows the artist’s humorist side with the highly decorated textual and fun surfaces of dogs, pigs, and other creatures of nature.

The piece in this family friendly exhibit that truly illustrates the artist’s love of nature as well as her masterful technique is titled “One Day at the Lake.”

This needle felting, wool, and clay construction is at first glance an absolute realistic reconstruction of Mother Nature’s handy work. Seven tiny young ducks are setting on a log. Each one is individual and lifelike. They are looking about, each one in a slightly different pose.

Meanwhile, a colorful turtle crawls along the water’s edge observing the antics of the ducklings.

This work is delightful and the artist wants viewers to “connect the dots, use your imagination, and a whole new world will open up to you for you to fall into.”

Shafer provides insight about art exhibits in Greater Lafayette. Email him at

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