An Evolving Life. Looking After Us.
Looking After Us
I’m a runaway. Not the adolescent kind that packed a bag and slipped out into the night, never to be seen until years later in the bowels of Rome, Buenos Aires or Bangkok. No, I ran only as far as the East End of Long Island. My escape was more psychological than physical, more in mind than by body.
At the time I thought I was running away from the suburbs, the traffic, the consumer culture to the ocean, the salt breezes, the open fields. However I was mistaken. Eventually, I realized I was escaping from a conventional life to pursue a creative one. Somehow I knew I needed to be free from the stress of what was expected, perhaps from society itself. And it’s not easy to admit, but a part of that stress came from my religious upbringing.
I’m honored to be a Jew. Raised in Lakewood, NJ, I can read Hebrew, grew up amongst Holocaust survivors and spearheaded the installation of a five-foot menorah in my tiny East End town. But I’ve had a hard time with Judaism; its intensity, its subjugation of women and the hard-driving ambition it breeds.
So it’s ironic that 30 years after I moved to the South Fork, I’ve returned to a small synagogue in Greenport to rediscover my Judaism through Art. Over the last year, I’ve been meeting with seven other Jewish artists and Rabbi Gadi Capela to explore our religion through our diverse artworks. As a result, I’ve created and continue to develop a new multimedia series called Looking After Us, the first to incorporate my newfound drawing and pastel skills into my photographs. The series also includes watercolor and pastel paintings.
Exploring the interplay between life and death, this work has helped me cope with the death of my mother who passed two years ago after fighting cancer for five years. Judith, displayed below, is part of this series.
It asks questions like these: Is the soul everlasting? Do the spirits of those close to us linger nearby? Can we glimpse them out of the corner of our eye? Do they remain with us wherever we go looking after us no matter what came before?
Please click on the image below to enlarge.
Four works, two photography-based including Judith as well as two watercolors, will be on view in WHO ART THOU? — a group show of eight Jewish artists at Congregation Tifereth Israel in Greenport from March 25 thru May 20th. If you live nearby or are in the area, please stop by for the Opening Reception on Sunday, March 25 from 2:00 to 5:00 pm. Click here for more details.
An Evolving Life Series
Looking After Us. (This one)
I have had the good fortune of knowing Meryl Spiegel for many years. We met during my BNB days when she was referred to me as a resource for a specific type of photography I was searching for. I also knew her as a writer. Over the years, I have been impressed with Meryl’s talent and creativity, and the honesty of her work. When Meryl began to sketch, paint, work with pastels, she truly overlaid one talent on top of another. The layers were intriguing. I reached out to Meryl recently because I thought that the Hummingbird audience would appreciate her work, and value her process. They say that timing is everything, and in this case it was, because Meryl was thinking about not only “showing” her work, but writing about it too. In our new series, An Evolving Life, Meryl will share the stages, challenges, and meaning of her art, and the journey that coincides with the pieces she highlights. Sandra Novick
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