Thursday, November 10, 2022

Golems Appearing Around the Country!


Glad to share the news that my Paper Golems are doing a bit of traveling, after their big reveal in Los Angeles earlier this year. You can now buy the Paper Golems poster on my shop site, featuring 20 of my favorites – but yes, you can also see them LIVE and in person at two locations, in Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Michigan friends can see them on exhibition at the Goodman Museum at Temple Israel, where DOZENS AND DOZENS of golems have taken over the gallery space! About a year ago I participated in their "Museum Moments" video series, and now — finally! — we've got an in-person show.

The Goodman Family Judaic & Archival Museum is thrilled to feature comic book, papercut artist Isaac Brynjegard-Bialik’s latest collection: Paper Golems. Inspired by the uncertainty of the pandemic, Brynjegard-Bialik connects popular culture with sacred texts and traditions to create golems that tell stories of power and protection. The golems allow us the opportunity to consider what is necessary to assume responsibility for one's protection and the community's protection, using whatever resources are available- be it mud or paper- and to consider what role we play in our own salvation or destruction.


Pennsylvania folks? You can see some of the series as part of "Roots & Blossoms: An Exhibit of Eastern European Papercut Art," now showing at the Guild of American Papercutters National Museum in Somerset, PA. Open through July 15, 2023; Monday through Thursday from 11 to 6, and Saturday from 10 to 2. Free and open to the public.

Come see this special exhibit at the Guild of American Papercutters National Museum featuring artists working in traditional and new Eastern European papercutting traditions of many kinds. Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Russia, and more are represented. This exhibit consists of art that is in the style of or influenced by papercutting traditions from the European countries of Poland and further east. From the colorful, stylized Wycinanki to cuts born from the Jewish Diaspora, Roots and Blossoms displays traditional, modern, and even fusion works of art from members of the Guild of American Papercutters. Come find out about the images and techniques of eastern European paper artists.

Friday, December 31, 2021

Paper Golems Are Coming to Los Angeles in January 2022!


The golem story is one of power and protection. When the pandemic began and the world seemed to unravel in so many different ways, I wanted to regain a sense of control over my life, and so I started making golems. And now, for the first time ever, you can see all 72 of my paper golems in a new exhibition at the Dortort Center for Creativity in the Arts at UCLA Hillel.

If you've been keeping up with me through the pandemic, you know how personal this series is. Every golem is a response to what I saw happening in the world, day after day and week after week. The series is, at its heart, a pandemic diary.

“Paper Golems: A Pandemic Diary” is on display at the Dortort Center for the Arts Gallery at UCLA Hillel from January 27 through March 11, 2022. The free opening night reception is Tuesday, March 1, from 7-9 pm — with exclusive posters for sale, freebies like stickers and buttons, and some big surprises!

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

In Conversation with Art and Scroll Studio

Looking forward to talking with Shelley Werner of Art and Scroll Studio about my work, its origins, my golem series, and the new stuff I have planned for the coming months.
Register for FREE tickets:

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”