Judith Bronowski
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Judith Bronowski in 1998, with some creations
by papier-mâché artist Pedro Linares
(photo by Jacklyn Stroud)

___ . ___

Known for her exceptional films on folk artists of Mexico, Judith Bronowski's prime motivation for making such films was to provide name recognition to Mexican artists.  Prior to the decade of the seventies,  folk art purchased by travelers to Mexico was usually unsigned or of otherwise anonymous origin.  Bronowski felt this condition was due to manipulations by museums and folk art stores, who could buy folk art at extremely low prices provided that collectors had no direct access to the artists themselves. To a large extent, this resulted in artists and artisans remaining anonymous and poor. In Bronowski's films, the artists create their work and speak for themselves; although English translation prints were made, the magic of the art and culture presents itself best in the original tongue. It is a tribute to the strength of these films that non-Spanish speakers will miss very little of the personality of the artist when viewing the Spanish version.  Bronowski is the daughter of the late Jacob Bronowski, noted mathematician and host of 'The Ascent of Man' series.


The Powers of Ten: a Rough Sketch (1968). Researched, developed, and animated this award-winning film for the Office of Charles and Ray Eames. The base photograph consists of a man lying on the ground in Miami, Florida. An updated version of the film was later distributed in 1978.

Pedro Linares: Artesano de Cartón (Papier Maché' Artist) (1975). Co-produced, co-directed, and wrote this story of the maker of 'alebrijes', fantastic colorful monsters, who passed away in 1992.

Sabina Sanchez: Artesano Bordadora (The Art of Embroidery) (1976). Judith co-produced, co-directed, and wrote this profile of a Oaxacan embroidery artist.   While not as well-known as Manuel Jiménez or the Linares family, this embroiderer from San Antonino, Oaxaca shows us how this ubiquitous and detailed work is made.

Manuel Jiménez: Artesano de Madera (Wood Carver) (1977). Co-produced, co-directed, and wrote this study of the now very famous artist from Oaxaca.

Marcelo Ramos: Artesano Pirotécnico (The Firework Maker's Art) (1980).   This is the hands-down winner of the Most Subversive Film Ever-To-Be-Shown-To-Schoolchildren award. There’s no telling how many US schoolkids went home and started playing with matches, gasoline, and black powder after seeing the Ramos family from San Pedro Zumpango, Mexico build their mighty rockets for the La Purísima Concepción festival. Even grandma gets involved, weaving fuses, and the two-year olds are running around stuffing powder in tubes.  My favorite? How about the wooden-barrel mixer, powered by a really sparky old electrical wire... also of note are the elaborate and beautiful fireworks called castillos.

Snow Motion (1982). Produced, directed, and wrote a promotional film on snowmobiling in Yellowstone for Yamaha.

A Tribute to Jan de Swart (1987). A short film set to music shows the house and hand-built art/furniture/sculpture of this reclusive California craftsman.

Judith also produced Jonas Salk - Personally Speaking (1998) for KPBS San Diego. Aired initially on July 1, 1998, this half-hour TV profile includes elaborate archival material on the development of the polio vaccine, and numerous sound bites from family and colleagues. Gives an intimate dimension to Salk, including archival interviews with Salk himself and information about his life after the polio heroics.


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