Tom Judd was born in Lawrenceville, New Jersey in 1952, but grew up from the age of two with two sisters and a brother in Salt Lake City, Utah. His father Thomas Grant Judd, a Salt Lake native, was a grandchild of the famous Mormon president Heber J. Grant, although Judd's family were not active church members. Judd's mother, Virginia Rapp Leonard was originally from Indiana.
Judd attended the University of Utah from 1970 to 1972 when he departed on a six-month leave of absence to travel in Europe. He returned in 1973 to attend 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 beginning with his first solo exhibit at Eric Makler Gallery in Philadelphia in 1980. Judd was soon recognized in New York City, including Monique Knowlton and Coe Kerr Gallery. In 1984 he was given a solo exhibit at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and had work purchased for their permanent collection. In 1990, Judd had a ten-year retrospect at the Philadelphia Art Alliance. The show also traveled to the Salt Lake Art Center the following year. In 2009, Judd joined forces with curator and gallery owner Allen Sheppard to produce "Evidence of a Collected Past". This exhibition was staged at the Globe Dye Works - an alternative art space in Philadelphia - and consisted of a 20 year retrospective of Judd's works.
Judd has also participated in many public art projects including a billboard next to an interstate 76 in Philadelphia in 1994 and a seventy foot chalk drawing in Salt Lake City in 1997. That same year, he was curator and organizer of an exhibition in New York City with twelve invited artists entitled "The Chalk board Chronicles", which is being made into a documentary film. In 2000 he was commissioned to do an exterior mural for the city of Philadelphia's Fringe Festival through the mural arts program. He also completed a mural for Friday Saturday Sunday restaurant in Philadelphia.
In recent years, he has branched out into installation projects including "The Hermit Project" at Stremmel Gallery in Reno, NV in 2005. That same year, he traveled to Tijuana, where he collaborated with Mexican poet Omar Pimienta to produce "Tijuana Weekend" at Scott White Contemporary in San Diego. The show consisted of a Mexican shack made of found materials imitating the housing found south of the border as well as a series of portraits of Mexican women.
"My work is a series of collages and fragmentations of surfaces and imagery. It speaks about memory and metaphor. I combined landscape, still life, patterns, and figures in an effort to imitate the eclectic nature of our memories. I used everything from wallpaper, found photos and postcards, to handwritten letters and recipes. Some of my mentors and fellow travelers are Walker Evans and Joseph Cornell. Evans photographs captures the strange poetry of the association of everyday objects collected with a sort of reverence and meaning. Cornell on the other hand was all about manipulation, yet he too used everyday objects and imagery to create a mysterious and sacred place, not unlike a religious alter. As with Cornell and Evans I think of this work as visual poetry that creates a context of mystery. In this way, it suggests the finding of an artifact from another time. It imparts a contradictory sense of loss and discovery on the viewer." -Tom Judd