Artist Statement

My most recent series of paintings are linked through the common exploration of the connection between the physical and the spiritual.  I examine my own identity by searching a collective ancestral unconscious.  

Under the Sun
My paintings explore connections between the physical and the spiritual.  As I reflect on place and how my surroundings impact my feelings and thoughts, landscape becomes an allegory for psyche and emotion.  Although I am a city dweller, my soul is most stirred in lands that seem beyond the control of humans.
 
Kohelet inspired the series of paintings, “Under the Sun”The text mentions three sensory elements: adama (earth), shemesh (sun) and hevel, which literally means breath, but is typically translated as vanity.  Adama contains the potential for life.  Shemesh makes existence possible.  Hevel is perceived, but then dissipates.  It is this quality of hevel that often equates with material existence. Tradition tells us that our earth is merely a shadow of the world above, which we cannot know because of our limitations as mortal beings.  The only reality we can truly comprehend is our world under the sun.
 
“Under the Sun” references a wild November day when I was walking through a hibernating prairie.  Sunlight filtered through incessantly evolving clouds, creating theatrical shadows.  Of that day, I most vividly remember the interplay of light and wind.  It is this fleeting world that nourishes my imagination and dreams.

Morning 
Sleep is like a mini death. In slumber, one becomes vulnerable and relinquishes control over one’s physical and psychic selves. There is a prayer in the Jewish morning service that expresses gratitude for the soul reuniting with the physical being after sleep. Waking in the morning is like a birth with renewed consciousness. Sleep brings the unknown, while morning conveys light and clarity to thought and vision.

"I Have Let You See It With Your Own Eyes", a self‑portrait, is the first painting of my series, “Morning”. It explores the concepts of internally and externally imposed limitations on my dreams and desires. The painting incorporates images of a specific place, and utilizes visual and symbolic language to connect the physical world to internal realities. The title of the painting comes from the biblical text, in which Moses is not allowed to enter Israel. Instead, God takes him to a mountaintop where Moses is permitted to view the land from a distance. In this painting, like Moses, the figure views the land without being able to touch it. 

The specific land that is depicted in many of my paintings is the Orkney Islands in Scotland, a place that I visited twice, the last time over 25 years ago. The islands are isolated, sparsely populated by humans, and a fierce and beautiful landscape and sea. They represent a stark contrast with my busy and noisy city life.

Ultimately, the idea of the islands has become, as I live a life of responsibility, the place where I live in my imagination and dreams. But, as the paintings progress, the figures move into the landscape, living an authentic reality that cannot be found in the expectations of others. Morning is less a time of day and more a place of mind. I want to feel the blood in the earth and the soul of the figure and translate it into my work.

Yizkor (Remember)
Informed by the Jewish rituals for mourning, the paintings from the series, Yizkor, are introspective explorations of the relationships among memory, death and birth. My father died on my birthday, tangibly and forever linking his passing to my beginning. With imagery inspired by personal memories, family narratives and photographs, and religious texts, these works are symbolic representations of the juncture of physical transience and my ancestry. They reflect on the process of mourning and upon mortality as the evolution from outer shell to soul.

Birds 
Paintings of birds are inspired by direct observation of nature and from the Bird Specimen Collection at the Field Museum in Chicago, which amasses hundreds of thousands of birds from all over the world; some more than 100 years-old. Specimens in the museum are empty, feathered cases; smelling of moth balls; stuffed with cotton; their legs tethered. The collection primarily exists to research environment, culture and conservation. Changing climates affect the ecosystems in which the birds live, impacting their migration, breeding, food supply and survival. By studying their lives. we hold up a mirror, reflecting our own future as a species.

In religious text, birds herald hope and serve as offerings for worship. As archetype, they possess significance, in that they inhabit earth, sea and sky, evoking humanity’s deepest aspirations and fears. Birds assume the persona of angel: messenger, guide, harbinger of life and death. 
 
Hamabul – The Flood
Underneath, in between, and around the surface details of prayer, ritual and biblical narratives, I find layers of personal, emotional and spiritual meaning. The literal tales are spare; emotions are missing or hinted at, and character traits are only suggested. This frugality of language permits delving beneath the outer coats of the stories into a deeper and more mystical realm. The empty spaces on the written page become as important as the words themselves. 

In the biblical story of the flood, I wonder about the representation of water as the instrument of death. I envision the devastation of the human and beastly bodies becoming one with the waters.  I am compelled by this destruction, and by the implications of spiritual renewal. The bible begins with divine creation, yet only divine retreat allows space for mortal creativity. There is no need for Adam and Eve to create while living in the idyllic Garden of Eden. Childbirth and labor come after the expulsion. Suffering necessitates creative action. 

Although the flood is brutal and deadly it utilizes the living sea as its medium of ruin. Water signifies purity and rebirth in the archetypes of literature and visual art. To journey through water takes one from the mundane to the holy and from the weakness of mortality to potency.

Sefer Hana
Birth and death are recurring themes in the bible. In Samuel I, the biblical narrative mostly belongs to Hana who is barren and consumed by intuitive desire to conceive and give birth. Instead, each month Hana experiences death as her womb flows out the potential for life. The emotion of her infertility is raw, as is her prayer and the satisfaction of her childbirth. 

In Sefer Hana, Hana's experiences and emotions are expressed through images of fetuses. We all began here and, at times of despair and extreme vulnerability, return to our primal consciousness. The final image in the book merges birth and death into one figure, questioning the cycle - where do we begin and where do we end? As a woman who has given birth, miscarried and moved through the phases of fertility, I am compelled by this feminine intimacy, which transcends border and time.



 
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