High Holiday Torah Mantles

Posted by on Sep 21, 2016 in Jewish Ritual Art, News, Public Art, Visual Art | 0 comments

High Holiday Torah Mantles

When Torah mantles are commissioned for the High Holidays, there’s a good chance that the ‘theme’ and the ‘color palette’ will take a committee a minimal amount of time to determine.  Still, as I work with groups, I try to elicit enough to make the final product a perfect fit.  For this project, I asked the committee members, the rabbi, the ritual committee, and other interested congregants to tell me, “What do you want to ‘feel’ when the ark opens on Rosh Hashana?  Not specific images, but instead abstract thoughts about that moment of invitation to go deep into self-examination and hope for the new year.” Three pages of madly transcribed ideas led to what you see above. One of the five Torah mantles, each featuring a different mix of quilted earth-toned silks on soft, highest quality chenille, with hand stitching and five colors of Swarovski crystals, build on a committee’s charge to create a set of mantles that would inspire introspection with simplicity.  A trip to the garment district in New York City led me to the wonderful gem of a shop called Metro Textile where Kashi spread out a world of beautiful cloth.  Fabulous Kansas-based wood turner Tom Boley handcrafted the maple rings for the tops of the mantles. The wood tops are heavily padded – a surprising pleasure  to handle when the Torah is to be dressed. Everything about these covers is a delight and an inspiration.  They are heavily quilted and lined, measured specifically to fit each of the Torah’s specs, and made for years and years of use. Congregants’ reactions to the mantles included these comments:  “I saw the Kotel right away – all the different shapes and soft colors of the wall…” “I saw manna coming down from heaven – and a reaching up from earth.”  “Connections between Heaven and Earth.”  “Exquisite simplicity.  Perfect for the season!” Work in...

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Donor Recognition and Tribute Book

Posted by on Dec 14, 2014 in Awards, Certificates, and Commissioned Works, Donor Recognition Art, News, Public Art, Visual Art | 0 comments

Donor Recognition and Tribute Book

L’dor va’Dor is the appropriate title of this book to honor donors and the names that appeared on plaques in a previous synagogue building which was destroyed by fire.  The wooden book was fabricated in Maine by Welch USA, and I quilted and painted the fabric insert.  The exterior brass binding seen below was crafted to match a border design that I developed for the main donor recognition wall. Shown here prior to being stretched and mounted into the wooden frame, this quilted silk was put together in a palette that matches the new building in which it is placed.  The words ‘L’dor vador’ (Generation to generation) are painted in gold with copper accents, and embellished with small clusters of Czech beads at the ‘waistlines’ of the letters....

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Feature/ Major Donor Recognition Wall

Posted by on Dec 14, 2014 in Donor Recognition Art, Jewish Ritual Art, News, Papercuts, Public Art, Visual Art | 0 comments

Feature/ Major Donor Recognition Wall

In 2013 I was charged with designing a 17′ X 8′ curved donor recognition wall for the recently completed Chisuk Emuna Congregation in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The finished design tells the story of the congregation’s 19th Century roots in Kovno, the various buildings that housed the congregation, and the values of the synagogue. The entire donor recognition system throughout the building is anchored here as the major donors who helped create the reality of a new home are honored between the art panels. Each designed panel measures two feet across and eight feet high and is fabricated from a variegated Formica and Youghiogheny art glass. The calligraphed words of the soaring central panel are incised into Corian.  The designs of the four decorative panels are based on traditional Jewish papercut art in that the imagery is all interconnected.  Welch USA, a signage company in Maine, brilliantly lasercut my full size designs and installed the completed wall, which is a single aspect of the donor recognition system. Photo above by Daniel Shanken. Please note:  This artwork is copyright protected and may not be reproduced without permission.  Thank...

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Mennonite Heritage Center Folk Arts Show

Posted by on Nov 24, 2014 in News, Public Art, Upcoming Events, Visual Art | 0 comments

Mennonite Heritage Center Folk Arts Show

I’ll have 12 works hanging in the annual folk arts show benefiting the Mennonite Heritage Center in Harleysville, PA, opening December 6, 2014 and running through the month of December.  The works will range from English language illustrated quotes to Hebrew/English works taken from Pirke Avot and the Torah.  Of particular interest are several intricate papercuts.  In both language history and folk arts traditions, the Jewish and Pennsylvania German/Mennonite cultures have many points of intersection, and I look forward to being a featured artist among creators of Fraktur work and other lettering and paper arts....

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Tzedakah Society Papercut

Posted by on May 7, 2014 in Awards, Certificates, and Commissioned Works, News, Papercuts, Public Art, Visual Art | 0 comments

Tzedakah Society Papercut

When the Susquehanna Tzedakah Society was founded, I was commissioned to create a limited number of papercuts to honor the small (and growing) but critical number of donors to the foundation that supports the planned giving work of the community.  Incorporated into the design are references to the story of Honi the Circlemaker who planted a seedling that produced carob fruit for the next generation, a passage from Amos in Hebrew and English, the Torah, and the waters of the river next to which the foundation is situated.  The original papercut that I made was sent off to be laser cut in California, and the design team told me that the lines I cut by hand were finer than what they could manage by machine on the paper I chose!  I felt like John Henry!...

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Somewhere Far Away

Posted by on Feb 16, 2014 in Awards, Certificates, and Commissioned Works, News, Papercuts, Public Art, Visual Art | 0 comments

Somewhere Far Away

A commissioned work five feet long and two feet in height hangs in the Penn State Library to honor child Holocaust survivor and philanthropist Linda Schwab.  The honoree chose a poem by H. Leivik which was written about the freedom he sought as a political prisoner in Siberia:  “Somewhere far away… buried treasure lies below the untrod snow…”  Designed to fit into a reading room on Holocaust studies, the Yiddish text is written in gouache mixed to have a coppery glow, with interlinear English translation in black. Cut white paper in various textures creates a sky with snowscape below.               At 60 inches, I worked with heavy watercolor paper purchased by the roll, and taped the entire piece to a massive table to complete the...

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