Artmaking and specifically drawing connects me to my spiritual life.
It is a form of investigation, questioning, wonder that drives me through the creative process. Drawing itself feels like a prayer or spiritual act to me offering me quiet contemplation, balanced consideration, a way to understanding, a sense of awe. As I work, the world is continually revealed in new and unexpected ways and continues to be.
A number or years ago, I began a cloaked series of work call ‘100 Daily Blessings’ stemming from the 100 daily blessings or Talmudic Berakhot of the Orthodox Jews. I understood that these daily blessings transformed the mundane and commonplace into spiritual acts. I saw them as a way of honoring the life we are given, the commonplace the neglected. Using natural and manmade fragments, rusted and useless I focused on this series of drawings to remind myself of the importance of the unsung, ordinary, minimal in our ever day existence.
Until this point in my career I could not have imagined publically presenting work that had religious overtones, suggestions or direct connections. Artist Paul Rand visited St. Paul that year and after hearing him speak about his work in synagogues in NYC, I was encouraged to make work that spoke to the questions and conflicts I felt in my spirit.
This permission led me to the start working from Torah.
Studying the book of Genesis with the Minnesota Jewish Woman’s Artist Circle and Jewish scholars while simultaneously researching, I began a Bereishit series drawings (In the beginning …) investigating and comparing the creation story from differing perspectives: the contemporary Darwinian perspective of evolution and the ancient narrative of Bereishit.
The Creation Series investigates the intersection of the Torah with contemporary life and tries to make meaning of them both. In the mid 1990’s our country became enveloped in the controversy of Intelligent Design and its place in the science curricula America’s public schools.
Intelligent Design is a form of biblically literal Creationism promoted by the Discovery Institute, a politically conservative think tank. In reaction to the Creationist argument against evolution and Darwinism I reread the book of Genesis.
With additional research into the Jewish interpretation of Genesis I discovered an article by Orthodox Rabbi Slifkin from his book “The Challenge of Creation”, a book banned by a group of Haredi rabbis in Israel and the United States. Further research revealed a deep divide in the Jewish community regarding the literal interpretation of the creation story.
The intention of my drawings series Genesis: Questions of Creation is to investigate the Jewish creation story and the science that informs us.
My work “Lamentations’ has continues the investigation of Jewish thought honoring the ordinary as a blessing and reminder of our place in the world. In addition, the work raises deep concerns about our human failure to meet g-ds mandate to care for our earth questioning our ability to notice and understand our impact on our planet, and expressing a deep sorrow for our inability to make changes necessary to save it.
The Torah and its directives for living have informed my life and work in ways that I never considered when I initially converted from Catholicism. Judaism and midrash has given me a plan for living, an appreciation of my responsibility to the earth and a love of g-d though ever elusive.
My drawings are personal voyages into spiritual questions and grey areas that are unanswerable. As a child I loved my Catholic inheritance. As an adult, I have loved the Jewish people and religion. They have both given me purpose, hope and a format to build my work on in both my personal and artistic life.