There are so many way to turn the question of trying to explain “One/Echad”. Could it be outside of us, as God might be imagined looking down on the world? or that everything we know (including ourselves) are part of the One? What of the “parts” that aren’t apparent upon first inspection, such as space- but can be recognized by wind or smoke? Are the sounds we make (words, speech, music) a part of this equation?
A number of years ago my son, Jesse was in an accident and injured his back. It was a time of stress and concern for our whole family. I was in touch with family and friends around the world to ask them to mention his name in their prayers for healing/misheberach. The image that came to me was that prayers and blessings were “uploaded” from the sender to a layer of prayers and blessings of the Heavens, then they were “downloaded” (and delivered) to the person who is receiving them. I don’t know if this is how things work, but it gave me the idea of a web-like connection surrounding the earth to begin the imagining process.
My initial thought was to look to the Heavens for the mesh imagery. The mesh for the image evolved into including stars in the line work.
Next images were of the earth/globe encircled in mesh…
The saying goes that a Jew answers a question with another question. The thing about continuous questions is that the process is unending, leading from one question into another. When one asks a question and is given an answer, the process of “engagement” ends. Central to this project is the invitation to wrestle with Judaism..to engage in the process of study (“wrestling”), revelation (or “illuminating”), and living Jewishly from the “inside out” (“connecting”).
This is the “core concept” of “wrestling” whose image I want to represent. My initial sketch was of threads entangled in a knot–interwoven, tightening, loosening, entangled, converging, diverging.
Knots already have a central place in Jewish practice….”tzitzit”! so turning them into the image for this concept was the next step of the process.
Working from this image, I tried out other solutions…
knots_tzitzit (quarter design)
Tzitzit with "techelet"
Although the “idea” of these images was intriguing, there was something lacking…it was time to get out my camera and actually work with some tzitzit.
Next was to create a drawing from the photo…
The path that led from the glimmer of an idea to an image that would be part of the first panel developed over many months. The following are just some of the “sketches”…steps in the process of imagining what striking image “illuminate” could become.
serigraph print, Promise of the Rainbow
In 1983 I was working in my studios on limited edition serigraphs, “Promise of the Rainbow” (http://www.harwinstudios.com/gallery/details.php?item_id=56) was created to honor the promise of a new life. It’s imagery of illumination and stars came to mind as a distinct possibility to draw upon….however, there were many other directions to try out before settling on a firm direction.
Illuminate with globe
Globe with lines
Illuminate font with stars
Illuminate ivory with gold lines
If HaShem/Adonai/yud-he-vav-he is One, how is it that there are so many apparently different things that make up the One? Is it only the things that can be seen that make up the One? How does one include the space that touches every thing completely?
For example, it is as if one must think about the white space on the page as a container for the black shape that we recognize as having meaning. To me, the “white space” is like a web of connection pressing against every visible piece of our universe.
"connection" first sketches
The beauty of a spider’s web in the morning sun with dew on its threads is a sight to behold. The weaving is unique, off center, a product of spontaneity and the wind.
"connection" additional sketches
After a hiatus which started in late August, when I completed work on the “elements and particles”, until now, life interceded–holidays, weddings, family and guests (and other projects)….all good things, but the work on “Threads of Connection” was set aside. Now, with the new year of 2011 beginning, it’s time to pick up the “Threads” where I left off.
The previous post contained a sketch from December 2007, when ideas and thoughts began to take shape in cursory sketches…the first a sketch for “illuminate”. The second concept of the “introduction” is wrestle…
The question that I posed to myself was “What simple, universal image could convey the physical struggle of wrestling?” A knot with its intertwined strands woven and pulling against each other from different directions—tightening and loosening, expanding and contracting was where the sketching process began.
Repeated quarter designs with increasing complexity began to proceed across the page…
until a pattern emerged that looked interesting as a full page…
sketch of "Illuminate"
The photo from the positing 7/30/10 is the first completed fabric construction panel for the project…but how did it all begin three years ago…
The initial three concepts came to me as ones central to Judaism–
Illuminate and its relationship to “light”-whether one is thinking of “illuminated letters” in the tradition of Medieval books with gold letters or the candles one lights on Shabbat then draws in the “light” to bring a sense of delight to the time one is entering.
Wrestle is the journey of questioning, seeking answers yet knowing that within Judaism there are no definite answers…it is the old “on the one hand—yet on the other” that one pursues to see that there is a value to both sides of the question. That nothing is totally black or white, but through the seeking and questioning one’s can raise awareness.
Connection is the concept that it’s not only the “web” that connects us in this age of computers, but there have historically been connections that weave through our lives, around the world, through the Universe. Through raising ”insight”, one can begin to know and recognize these “threads” that connect us, one to another.