What an incredible experience. Five thousand Reform Jews from around the world (mostly from North America) gathering together in San Diego for the 2013 URJ Biennial, where I was the artist-in-residence.
|Getting started in my mobile studio.|
|The first piece cut.|
|Left, the mountain begins to take shape. Right: one of the first background pieces.|
As for the workshop: three dozen people joined me to express ourselves through the cutting of paper. Margaret and Lou and Shoshana and Joe and Robin and Wilma and Heidi... so many wonderful budding artists. It was both exhausting and invigorating. We had four hours together, and I am so proud of the work everyone made.
|Photo from the URJ|
|Photo from the URJ|
And somehow it happened: although Wednesday morning I had only a large blank sheet of cold-press watercolor stock, by Saturday night I had completed “Gathering.”
Wednesday I studied and sketched, Thursday I cut paper to create the top layer, Friday I disassembled and then reassembled pieces from comic books and maps and other ephemera to create the background, and Saturday after my workshop I put the last pieces together.
The idea inspiring the piece is simple, really – I came to see the Biennial as a “Sinai moment,” all of us gathered together to worship and receive Torah and study and learn.
As with all of my work, words from Torah informed the piece. In Exodus 19:18 we read, “Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke, for Adonai descended upon it in fire, and the smoke rose like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled violently.” That’s the way I like to think of Revelation – as a kiln. The smoke of God’s presence surrounding the top of the mountain reminds us that we are not just gathering, but creating. We came together to discuss strengthening our movement and building a vibrant and relevant Jewish future.
The mountain itself is built out of the honeycomb iconography of the Biennial, with the riot of colors and textures underneath reflecting the content of the sessions, the sanctity of our prayers, and the specific geography of Biennial. The space surrounding the mountain is made of cut-up books and ephemera, including a dictionary and an encyclopedia, with references to Sinai, San Diego, Torah, music, prayer and the Reform movement.
|The completed papercut: "Gathering"|
“Gathering” includes these comics (and more) in the background:
- Action Comics #25 (Jan 2014)
- Animal Man #2 (Dec 2001)
- Batman: The Black Glove (2008)
- Captain Atom #3 (Jan 2012)
- The Flash: Rebirth #1 (June 2009)
- Green Arrow #22 (May 2003)
- Green Arrow and Black Canary #8 (Jul 2008)
- Green Lantern: Fear Itself #1 (2011)
- Infinite Vacation #5 (Jan 2013)
- Invincible Iron Man #25 (Aug 2010)
- Justice League #1 (Oct 2011)
- Metamorpho and Aquaman #1 (Oct 2007)
- Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #25 (Feb 2007)
- Testament #3 (Apr 2006)
- Wonder Woman #10 (Aug 2007)
“Gathering” also includes pieces of the following:
- The Future of Judaism in America, by Eugene Kohn. (The Liberal Press, New York, 1934.)
- Union Hymnal, Third Edition. The Central Conference of American Rabbis, New York, 1958).
- Pathways Through the Bible, by Mortimer J. Cohen. (The Jewish Publication Society of America, New York, 1966).
The final work will hang in the URJ’s New York offices, and for a limited time we are making archival giclée prints available to anyone interested in having a reminder of Biennial for themselves. The prints measure 16” x 20” and will be mailed in an artwork tube; the price is $120.00 (including domestic shipping), and the proceeds are being split with the Union for Reform Judaism. To order, please visit my online store.