Celebrating Creation

During the past few years, I’ve been teaching message-driven art workshops and creating found object sculptures with students of all ages. While I hope to get back to the pottery wheel and playing in the dirt soon, I’ve enjoyed experimenting with a variety of media and re-purposing trash to create art. This process of making art from trash is also practical, as I am slowly cleaning out my basement studio in anticipation of our move later this year.

This week, Jews around the world celebrated Rosh Hashanah, the New Year. Two themes of the holiday liturgy exist in tension: “today is a day of judgment” and “today the world was born.” I decided to focus on the second theme, to seek opportunities to celebrate creation and creativity in 5776.

Because the creative impulse is difficult to restrain, I head downstairs to the studio often, to reward myself after packing several boxes of books and filling my car with bags of clothes to donate. I know I cannot keep anything I create this year, and this inspires me to give gifts of art even absent any particular gift-giving occasion.

This morning, I packed up this piece as a gift for my friend and colleague at The Weber School:

DRSH landscapeFound Object Sculpture: D.R.SH

Materials: found objects—cell phone & Kindle, coin replicas—wire, paint, ink & polymer clay

I began creating this piece in an adult workshop sponsored by the Neshama Interfaith Center, to demonstrate how to work with the materials. We had been studying biblical text together for several weeks, surveying the variety of Jewish and Christian interpretations of Genesis 11 throughout the generations. I chose to focus on the Hebrew root, D.R.SH, and I used the mirrored innards of a Kindle as the base, as well as metallic paint/ink, because I wanted the definitions of D.R.SH to glow and to be reflected upward, toward the source of wisdom. Originally, the phone was attached to the base with terra cotta clay, and the coins were nested in the clay, to represent the riches of Torah uncovered through the process of D.R.SH. Unfortunately, as the clay dried it cracked and the piece began to fall apart. In the repair phase (re-creation), I used earth-toned polymer clay to reattach the piece to the base and glued the coins to the interior of the phone. The front and back of the phone are loosely held together at the top with wire, to indicate there is open space within the piece, at its foundation, for the continued accumulation of wisdom.


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