18 (2009). 40×29.5 inches. Gouache and graphite on book pages.

I’ve used a  lot of Islamic books and Arabic script in my artwork, but have not yet explored Jewish texts in quite the same way. This piece is the first in a series of collages (now up to 3) that begin with a Jewish religious text.

One aspect of Jewish texts that fascinates me is the graphic integration of commentary in the Hebrew Bible, or Torah. Jewish texts, especially the Midrash, use different font sizes, or sometimes even different types of script. These graphic depictions are literally different “voiced” commentaries  written by religious authorities over the centuries and across geography. Over time, these commentaries became part of the foundational text of Jewish doctrine. As such, these books exemplify that text itself  is a living thing.

When people talk about Jews having a love of argument, it is clear from the Tanakh that, in fact, the ability to discourse is an integral part of being Jewish.  Studying texts and, indeed, questioning them is one of the most elevated forms of Jewish tradition–even God himself is said to enjoy a good argument!

This series of drawings uses pages from a “discarded”  prayer book and Venn diagrams. The image looks much bluer than it is in reality, but the overlapping circles are the primary element. In the history of the Diaspora, Jews have variously stood apart, assimilated, been forced into ghettos, and established illegal settlements. Such tendencies to separate and overlap are explored in these drawings.

I am a librarian and artist living in Eugene, Oregon — where it is often damp and always green.