Monday, May 20, 2013

Miriam's Well – Embrace the Possibilities

I'm very pleased to share with you a photo of my latest completed papercut — "Miriam's Well"— a commission celebrating and honoring the outgoing president at my synagogue, Temple Ahavat Shalom. It measures 26" x 40" and, as usual, features cut-up comics.

While the Jewish people wandered through the wilderness they were accompanied by a wondrous well which would provide water for them at every resting-place. God created this well for the sustenance of the Israelites in recognition of the merits of Miriam, which is how it gets its name. The well followed them on all their wanderings — and wherever they halted, it halted, too, settling in position opposite the Tabernacle. The leaders of the twelve tribes would appear and chant to it, “Spring up, o well,” and water would gush forth from its depths, and shoot up high as pillars, then discharge itself into great streams. These streams demarcated areas for each of the twelve tribes to camp in, and were so powerful that people were obliged to make use of ships to visit one another. The water led beyond the encampments, where it caused to grow every conceivable kind of plant and tree; and these trees, owing to the miraculous water, daily bore fresh fruits.

This president has dedicated her time a similar nurturing of the synagogue community (as well as the larger community), welling forth with tikkun olam and justice. Her leadership has sustained this community, and helped to create an environment in which everyone can “embrace the possibilities.”

The water of the well is backed with cut-up comic books featuring famed female comic book leaders and heroes, notably Supergirl, Wonder Woman, and Batgirl. Within the swirls of color can be found speech bubbles that reflect on her presidency and her dedication to helping others.

The well is represented by the hint of a Torah scroll from a synagogue brochure, while the twelve spaces surrounding the well represent the twelve tribes, and are backed with cut-up temple materials. Above and below the well and the tribes are desert landscapes created from cut-up comics and photographic imagery of the desert in which the Israelites wandered.

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