Building on 25 years experience as a fiber artist, sculptor, costumer for modern dance and bridge design team member; Judy Bales creates art that is the exciting and improbable marriage of cold industrial materials and the sensuality of nature.  She utilizes industrial materials, many of which are found, recycled, or salvaged, in an ongoing effort to reveal beauty in unlikely places and stretch conventional notions of what constitutes art.

The broad range of Bales’ work is clearly unified by a sensibility that asserts the power of an artist to create beauty from anything, and convey that simple but vital truth to an audience. With various combinations of fiber, metal, wood, and other materials, she takes seemingly intractable disparities between the visual and the tactile, between the industrial and the aesthetic, and reconciles them in favor of beauty. By manipulating materials in ways and for contexts for which they were never intended, whether mangling the precise configuration of a plastic grid or turning a demure thrift shop dress into a cotton-and-steel amalgamation, she embraces creative transformation and a form of subversion that’s never less than alluring and whimsical, and always nourishing to the imagination.

Bales, who received both her BFA and MFA degrees from the University of Georgia, majored in painting as an undergraduate and completed her post-graduate work in fiber art. This combination of very distinct even unlike disciplines has served her well and helps to explain her unique work. While closer to a fiber artist in her choice of materials, she approaches her art more like an abstract painter, relying on improvisation and painterly techniques rather than the more precise, controlled approach traditionally favored by fiber artists.




MFA, University of Georgia, 1983

BFA, University of Georgia, 1975

Additional undergraduate work: Auburn University

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2014       Yugen, Museum of Arts and Sciences, Macon, Georgia

2012       Veil at the Vault, site specific installation sponsored by Teeple Hansen Gallery, Fairfield, Iowa

2010       Teeple Hansen Gallery, Fairfield, Iowa

2009       Adams Gallery, Cumberland University, Lebanon, Tennessee

2008       ICON Gallery, Fairfield, Iowa

              Mills Gallery, Central College, Pella, Iowa

2007       Lux Center for the Arts, Lincoln, Nebraska

2006       Appalachian Center for Craft,  Tennessee Tech University, Smithville, Tennessee     

              Peter Paul Luce Gallery, Cornell College, Mt. Vernon, Iowa

2002       Larson Art Gallery, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota

1999       Len G. Everett Gallery, Monmouth College, Monmouth, Illinois

              Shaw Cramer Gallery, Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts

Selected Group Exhibitions

2017       2017 DUMA Biennial, Dubuque Museum of Art, Dubuque, Iowa

               Inciting Rapture, Gilded Pear Gallery, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Two-person exhibition

2016       Divided/Attraction, Gilded Pear Gallery, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, received Best in Show

2015       Datzuzoku, ArtFiftyTwo, Fairfield, Iowa

2014       Iowa Crafts, MacNider Art Museum, Mason City, Iowa, Special Mention award

               Whimsy, ICON Gallery, Fairfield, Iowa

2012       Art Iowa\Inspired by the Landscape, Old Capitol Museum, Iowa City, Iowa

2009       Synecdoche, Quad City Arts, Rock Island, Iowa. Two person exhibition.

2005       Earth Bound, MacNider Art Museum, Mason City, Iowa. Two person exhibition.

               Out of Fashion, Union Art Gallery, University of Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

2004/05  Ready to Wear, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, Wisconsin

2003  Fiber Focus, Art St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri

2001  FIBERARTinternational2001, Society for Contemporary Craft, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

2000  Foundation of a Century, Nassau County Museum of Art, Roslyn Harbor, New York

1999  Iowa Artists 1999, Des Moines Art Museum, Des Moines, Iowa

         Materials:  Hard and Soft, Greater Denton Arts Council, Denton, Texas

1998  Overtones!, Convergence, Atlanta, Georgia

         Small Expressions, Atlanta International Museum, Atlanta, Georgia

         Surface: New Form/New Function, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Gatlinburg, Tennessee

1997  Paper/Fiber XX, Iowa City, Iowa

         Iowa Artists ’97, Des Moines Art Museum, Des Moines, Iowa

1995  Vessels, College of New Rochelle, New Rochelle, New York

1994  Wiggles and Spots, Delta State University, Cleveland, Mississippi

1993  The Space Within: Contemporary Basketry in the Midwest, Waterloo Iowa Museum of Art

         Paper/Fiber XVI, Iowa City, Iowa

         Woven Vessels: Contemporary Baskets, Sheldon Memorial Gallery, Lincoln, Nebraska

1992  Needle Expressions ’92, Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, Arizona

         Influences>Innovations, Torpedo Factory Art Center, Alexandria, Virginia

         Iowa Artists ’92, Des Moines Art Museum, Des Moines, Iowa

1991  Basketry from All Directions, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Gatlinburg, Tennessee

         Multimedia Basketry Invitational, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 

         Contemporary Crafts, Farrell Collection, Washington, D.C.

1990  The Spirited Touch, Archetype Gallery, New York, New York

         Basketweave ’90, Dairy Barn Gallery, Athens, Ohio

         Exploring Fiber Traditions, Views Gallery, Manayunk, Pennsylvania

1989  Iowa Artists 1989, Des Moines Art Museum, Des Moines, Iowa

         Fast Forward, Gayle Willson Gallery, Southampton, New York

         Fiber/Weavings, The Private Collection, Cincinnati, Ohio

         Personal Packaging, Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center, Auburn, New York

         Small and Curious Objects, Carega Foxley Leach Gallery, Washington, DC

Public Art, Consulting and Residential Commissions

2012  Western Route Trail Enhancements, Fairfield, Iowa

2011  Southern Route Trail Enhancements, Fairfield, Iowa

          Sculpture Visions 2011, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, year long temporary public art display

          Artstop 2011 Project Spaces, Des Moines, Iowa, temporary public art display

2010  Matkin Plaza, Fairfield, Iowa

          Private Residential Commission, Des Moines, Iowa, commissioned through Moberg Gallery

          Old US-80 Highway Bridge at Gila River, Maricopa County, Arizona, Aesthetic Consultant.

2008  35th Avenue and Salt River Bridge, Phoenix, Arizona.

          Weave-Through, Blue Springs, Missouri

2007-08  Aesthetic Consultant to Cannon TranSystems, Tucson, Arizona.

2007   Jefferson County Trails Council Bridges on the Cedar View Trail, Fairfield, Iowa

2005  Maryland Avenue Bridge Public Art Project, Phoenix, Arizona.

2004  Jefferson County Trails Council Bridge over BNSF Railroad, Fairfield, Iowa

1999  Sculptural commission for Amy O’Deen residence, Iowa City, Iowa

1992  Sculptural commission for Delores Stiles residence, Newport News, Virginia

Finalist Selection: Public Art Competitions

2012  Colorado Pedestrian Bridge, Denver, Colorado

2011  Symphony Lake Bridge, Cary, North Carolina

2008  Davis Road Bridge at Pixley Slough Project, Stockton, California

2007  El Dorado Street Bridge Project, Stockton, California

2006  Ankeny to Woodward Trail Art Project, Ankeny, Iowa

US/64 Pedestrian Greenway Bridge, Cary, North Carolina

2005  SH-102 Bridge Reconstruction over the Turner Turnpike, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Mt. Si Bridge Replacement Project, King County, Washington

Artist Designed Passenger Shelter, Banner Baywood Medical Center, Mesa, Arizona

2003  Los Angeles Fire Station #83, Los Angeles, California

Highway 7 Corridor Public Art Project, Blue Springs, Missouri

Des Moines East Village Storefront Public Art Project, Des Moines, Iowa

Art  Wear Events

2015  Omaha Fashion Week, August, 2015

Omaha Fashion Week, March, 2015

EcoJam Fashion Show  2015, Fairfield Convention Center, Fairfield, Iowa

2014  EcoJam Fashion Show  2014, Fairfield Convention Center, Fairfield, Iowa

Splatter to Sparkle, University of Iowa Museum of Art

2013  Fabricate, International Conference for the Surface Design Association, San Antonio, Texas

Serenity, Sondheim Center for the Arts, Fairfield, Iowa

Veil at the Vault, costume performance at opening of installation, Teeple Hansen Gallery, Fairfield, Iowa

2012  Persephone: A Rock Ballet, Sondheim Center, Fairfield, Iowa, 2012

Worlds Collide, Morning Star Studio, Fairfield, Iowa

2011  Brancott Estate World of Wearable Art Awards Show, Wellington, New Zealand

Bodies of Water Runway Show, International Conference of the Surface Design Association

Grants/Awards for Solo and Collaborative Projects

2012  Iowa Arts Council Mini Grant

Challenge America Fast Track Grant (awarded to Jefferson County Trails Council for public art project)

2011  Iowa Arts Council Mini Grant

Iowa Arts Council Mini Grant

2010  Challenge America Fast Track Grant (awarded to Jefferson County Trails Council for public art project)

Iowa Arts Council Mini Grant

Iowa Arts Council Mini Grant

2009  Iowa Arts Council Major Grant (awarded to Jefferson County Trails Council for public art project)

Iowa Arts Council Mini Grant

2008  Iowa Arts Council Major Grant (awarded to Jefferson County Trails Council for public art project)

Iowa Arts Council Mini Grant

Iowa Arts Council Mini Grant

2007  Iowa Arts Council Mini Grant

2006  Arizona Engineering Excellence Grand Award awarded to TranSystems for the Maryland Avenue               Pedestrian & Bicycle Bridge Over I-17, Phoenix, Arizona

2006  Challenge America Fast Track Grant (awarded to Jefferson County Trails Council for public art project)

2002  Challenge America Fast Track Grant (awarded to Jefferson County Trails Council for public art project).

1993  Iowa Arts Council Mini Grant

Papers, Presentations and Articles Published

2012  Critical Interventions, Creating Again and Again, Fractal Patterns and Process in Improvisational African         American Quilts, No. 9/10, Spring, 2012

2010  Surface Design Journal, Thinking Inside the Box: Infinity Within the Finite Fall, 2010, Volume 35, No 1

2009  Fractal Geometry in African American Quilt Traditions:  Presented at the 4th Biennial Symposium of       the International Quilt Study Center & Museum: The Global Quilt: Cultural Contexts, Lincoln, Nebraska

2008  ICON Gallery Odd Thursday Presentation on fractal geometry and quilts of Rosie Lee Tompkins

2007  ICON Gallery Odd Thursday Powerpoint presentation introducing African American quilt research

2007  Symposium Paper on the Maryland Avenue Pedestrian & Bicycle Bridge by Jerry A. Cannon, Dave         Peterson & Judy Bales, presented at the 46th IEEE Conference, New Orleans, LA, USA 2007

Selected reviews or photos published

Obscurae, September, 2015

Mystica, September, 2015

Scorpio Jin Magazine, Volume One

Surface Design Journal, Fall, 2009, Volume 34, No 1

The Big Fish: Consciousness as Structure, Body and Space, by Anna Bonshek, Rodopi, 2007

Surface Design Journal, Informed Source, Spring 2005, Volume 29

Fiberarts Design Book Seven, Lark Books, 2004

Ornament, Vol. 27, No. 2, 2003/04

Fiberarts Design Book Six, Lark Books, 1999

American Craft Magazine, Gallery, February/March, 1999

Fiberarts, New Works, September/October, 1997

American Craft Magazine, Gallery, December/January, 1995

American Craft Magazine, Portfolio, December/January, 1993

American Craft Magazine, Gallery, October/November, 1990

Visiting Artist Presentations and Residencies

1999-2012 Macon Museum of Arts and Sciences, Macon, Georgia

Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, Georgia

Cumberland University, Lebanon, Tennessee

University of Wisconsin, River Falls, Wisconsin

Monmouth College, Monmouth Illinois

American Trails Symposium, Davenport, Iowa

Iowa: Central College, Cornell College, Mt. Mercy College and Maharishi University of Management.

1989       Resident Artist, Artpark, Lewiston, New York