Thursday, June 17, 2021

Paper Golems in Jerusalem

Join me for a very special exhibition premiering DOZENS of my Paper Golems – THIS MONTH IN JERUSALEM! I’ll be exhibiting prints of some of my favorite golems in the MASSIVE series I have been creating since the pandemic hit in 2020, and talking about WHY GOLEMS and WHY NOW and WHY COMICS.

Jewish writers and artists have explored the golem narrative for centuries: using Jewish magic to bring clay figures to life, to do everything from performing household chores to protecting communities from existential danger. When the pandemic hit in 2020, I began to create golems in my home studio: pieced together from cut-up comic books, featuring brilliant colors and surprising juxtapositions. These golems are inspired by personal stories of universal interest, imbued with the attributes of classic super heroes in a decidedly contemporary context.
Exhibit opening and meet-and-greet on Saturday night, June 26, at 9 pm (after Shabbat) at Kol Haot in Jerusalem: Studio 9 in Hutsot Hayotser Artists’ Colony, across from Jaffa Gate.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Cutting up in New Jersey

 What a lovely story in The Jewish Standard about the work that Rabbi Shawna and I are doing as Paper Midrash – and in particular the work we're doing with Temple Emeth in New Jersey.


Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Gotham Golem

For some reason, though Batman is one of my favorite comic book characters, he doesn't wind up in many of my papercuts. That changes with this piece from my golem series. With a working title of "Gotham Golem," it measures 24" x 36" and it's made of cut-up Batman comics, focused in particular on Gotham City.


For me, the golem story is about protection and power. It's about making your own protector from whatever you have at hand, and hoping it doesn't grow beyond your control.

 The golem story is tied very closely to a sense of place – it's important where the material from which the golem is made comes from. As Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel took mud from the Vltava River in Prague to make his golem (spoiler alert: not a true story), the comics in my golem come from my childhood collection, and this golem is made of the city it is protecting.

 I can't wait to put this – and all of its companions – into an exhibition for you to see in person.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

With an Outstretched Arm

"With An Outstretched Arm" is an original papercut I made for Emmett to mark the occasion of him becoming a bar mitzvah January 2021. This papercut is inspired by him, by his Torah portion Va’era, and by the words he shared with his community as he made the transition to Jewish adulthood.

 The central imagery draws on words from Shemot/Exodus 6:6, in which God tells Moses to tell the Israelites, “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and through extraordinary marvels.” The arm of a pitcher, right to left from wind-up through delivery, delivers a miraculous pitch with an outstretched arm. Within these arms, which are an allusion to Marcel Duchamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase,”are various comic panels which reference Emmett and the responsibility he is taking on at this special moment.

“Today I am a man,” spoken by teen super hero Robin in a Batman comic, represents the day that this thoughtful, mature boy becomes a man in the eyes of his community.

The rest of the papercut includes cut-up comics which refer to his dreams (such as sports management), his ideals (including the justice and equality embodied by Jackie Robinson), and the moment when a boy becomes a man — noteworthy in the Captain Marvel comic since that hero is actually young Billy Batson, who says the magic word (Shazam) and becomes a grown man and super hero. At right is a pitcher in the moment of wind-up, standing on a pitcher’s mound which includes the EWSK logo commissioned for Emmett for his bar mitzvah — and behind that silhouette (the outline of Sandy Koufax, in one of the many references to the Dodgers in this papercut, sacred to Emmett and his family) we find references to the marvels and miracles of the Torah portion (“I still can’t believe it!”) and to Emmett’s special day (“All stand up to see what he’s done.”). Throughout the work are additional super heroes, embodying the ideals that Emmett chooses to live up to, as well as references to moments public and private.

Comics in the papercut include:

• The All-Star Story of the Dodgers (1979)
• American Flagg #6 (March 1984) — Emmett
• Batman: The Widening Gyre #1 (October 2019) — “Today I am a man.”
• Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier #1 (December 2014)
• Bullseye: Perfect Game #2 (February 2011) —”All stand up to see what he’s done.”
• Decorum #2 (June 2020)
• Justice League Special Featuring Mister Miracle #1 (1989) — #13 and “Miracle”
• Los Angeles Dodgers: The Legend of the Blue Knight (April 1997) —”I still can’t believe it!”
• Power Pack #13 (August 1985)
• Shazam! Power of Hope (November 2000)
• Shazam! #2 (April 1973) —”Shazam” and “Marvel”

Friday, January 22, 2021

Inauguration Golem

Haven't posted as much over the past year — but I sure have been cutting paper here in my studio, and I want to share a new piece with you. It's another in my series of golem that I started in March, 2020, when the pandemic lockdowns began here in the U.S. – and this one is inspired by the events of January 20, 2021: the inauguration of a new American president and vice-president.

My new inauguration golem, as of yet untitled, in my studio.

It's a big one, measuring 24" x 36" (as many of my latest golems are) and it's another strong humanoid figure, facing front and ready for action. It's made with cut-up comics featuring super heroes that are women, immigrants, and people of color (all three or some combination of those qualities): Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan), Sif, Thunder (Anissa Pierce), Vixen (Mari McCabe), and Supergirl.

There's a sense of dispensing with the nonsense of the last administration, and of celebration. There's strength and resolve. And there's power.

Detail with comic featuring Thunder (Anissa Pierce – daughter of Black Lightning).

The colors are drawing from one of my favorite moments of the day: national youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman reading her inspiring words from the steps of the Capitol where only two weeks before there was an armed insurrection and failed coup by white supremacists and their allies against the United States.

Detail with comics featuring Vixen (Mari McCabe).

And at the end of the ceremony, the sense that we were ready to pick ourselves up and strive to be the more perfect union that our founders envisioned, and that our present leaders reflected upon in their words.

America at its best. Courage. Heroism. Everyone pulling together.

So yeah, feeling a bit hopeful right now.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

"Graphic Jews" and ish Festival

 Had a great time presenting for the third and final installment of the "Graphic Jews" webinar series from ish Festival, HUC Cincinnati, and the Skirball Museum in Cincinnati. If you missed it and you want to catch it on the replay, click here. Meantime, here are some screencaps; we talked about Jewish art, and golems, and comics – some of my favorite topics!

Sharing my "Twelve Tribes" series

Discussing "Wisdom Cries Out in the Streets"

Sharing some of my lockdown golems

"Emet" (truth) powers the traditional golem

My first golem is made of comics featuring Jewish super hero The Thing

Did a live demo!

Me, ish's Marie Krulewitch-Browne (right), and the Skirball's Abby Schwartz (below)

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Arella Whirls – Commission at Sinai

"Arella Whirls" is a papercut commission made for Stephanie Swedlove to mark her conversion to Judaism, the culmination of a ten-year journey.

Torah and Talmud tell us that all Jews were at Sinai at Revelation, to accept the Torah and the covenant with God. All Jewish souls, into the future, today and tomorrow, by birth and by choice, and so on (Talmud Shevuot 39a and Shemot Rabbah 28:6). This papercut is built around Stephanie’s presence at Sinai, even as she now takes the final steps in the conversion process. Judaism also teaches us that all humanity deserves respect and justice, reinforced for us when we were slaves in Egypt, a story which we retell every year at Passover (and continually throughout our lives). This is connected to Stephanie’s drive for justice, trust, and community. This half of her story is represented with our people’s redemption, shown in the parting of the Sea of Reeds, with a path leading to Sinai.

The foundation is made of the purple costume worn by super hero Stephanie Brown, known as Spoiler – it’s where the journey starts. Up through the parted waters, which feature Arrowverse heroes (such as Felicity from Arrow, representing Stephanie’s analytic mind). “Tomorrow” references the teaching that all Jewish souls, past and present, are “right here.” Beyond/above the waves are verses from Devarim/Deuteronomy 29: 9-14, in which we read about all the people and future generations standing at Sinai in acceptance of the covenant.

In front of Mount Sinai we have the Teen Titans, with the voice of the Divine echoing around them. The lightning of God’s voice (based on a Hebrew pun in Shemot/Exodus 20:15) is made of another hero from the Arrowverse, the Flash, and in the clouds that swirl around the mountain like the smoke from a kiln (Shemot/Exodus 19:18) comic captions read “Arella Whirls” and “Arella Turns,” reflecting the joyous dancing of the Israelites after the crossing of the Sea and in acceptance of the Torah. And of course, Arella is Stephanie’s chosen Hebrew name – reflected as well in the shape of Mt. Sinai, an abstract aleph.

Comics in the papercut include:
  • Batgirl Annual #3 (January 2015)
  • Batman: Huntress/Spoiler #1 (May 1998)
  • Blackest Night: The Flash #1 (February 2010)
  • Gotham Underground #2 (January 2008)
  • Justice League of America #46 (August 2010)
  • Shazam: Power of Hope (November 2000)
  • The New Teen Titans #2 (October 1984), #4 (January 1985)
  • Teen Titans #6 (May 2017)