These large panels, each 8×4 feet, were begun in 1997, and completed in 2001.
For the previous decade, I had been working on paper with mixed media: paint, collage, pastels and other materials, which was a major departure from the large oil paintings on canvas I had been doing since the 80’s.
The 90’s was also a time of Jewish study for me, which led to the use of text and subject matter related to some of the material I was studying. Even before I started taking classes though, I saw my Jewish heritage appear in my work when I made the transition to working on paper. This was something unexpected.
The book shape was a result of the familiar expression of “The People of the Book”. The large format came about from an urge to have text and letters literally to walk into.
About the letters:
There is a great tradition about the power and spirituality of the Hebrew letters themselves. Each has a numerical value, and much is done with the numerical equivalent of each word; also they are regarded as having characters, power, and attributes of their own, besides (not least) being the way in which the word of God is transmitted, according to mystical thought.
All of this was unknown to me as a small girl in Hebrew school learning to write. Printing was blocky and a bit awkward, but writing, that is, Hebrew script, was magic. I loved writing from right to left in a swirling rhythmic way, one letter being the launching pad for the next. I loved the graded lines of the machberet, the special copybook lined for writing Hebrew. I think part of my obsession now with lines running horizontally across the page comes from that time. I also enjoy and appreciate ancient script of all kinds; cuneiform especially, with those wonderful triangular wedge-shaped forms.
So in these big books that embrace you in script and color, I hope you can feel the joy and pleasure in the old and the new.