ILLUMINATIONS: Aleph to Tav
A Mixed Media Exhibit Exploring the Symbolism of Hebrew Aleph Bet
THE COLOR OF JEWISH PENICILLIN
Homage to Andy Warhol (1927-1987)
POP ART. Sometimes, when you are dedicated to conveying something intensely significant to you, you need to be aware that you don’t get so intent you lose your sense of humor. Although not Jewish himself, Warhol’s signature image of Campbell Soup cans is a perfect parody to include in this exhibit.
Why 27 letters? The final form of 5 letters are included.
"My fascination with letting images repeat and repeat - or in film's case 'run on' -
manifests my belief that we spend much of our lives seeing without observing.” Andy Warhol
OTIYOT AS WORDS
Homage to Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997)
“Lichtenstein's signature Ben-Day dots, mechanical drawing and speech balloons became a trademark of Pop Art and its belief all forms of communication are filtered through codes or languages. It was obvious no one could better represent how Otiyot (Hebrew letters) are words as Lichtenstein’s artistry and creativity.” Lynn Rae
POP ART. An interesting fact– both Warhol and Haring did a Mickey Mouse series in 1981... 20 years after Lichtenstein’s “Look Mickey” challenged response was created. Yet Warhol is considered the Father of Pop Art.
Pop Art had its beginnings in 1961 when Lichtenstein’s son, pointing to a Mickey Mouse comic book challenged, "I bet you can't paint as good as that, eh, Dad?”
Vinyl & Acrylic, 43” x 30”
PLANETARY GLYPHICS, CELESTIAL OTIYOT
Homage to Adolf Gottlieb (1903-1974)
“When I saw Gottlieb’s pictographs, I felt I had discovered a kindred soul. His imagery, philosophy and style made him the perfect artist for my astrological representation of letters using Celestial script.” Lynn Rae
PICTOGRAPHS. Gottlieb radically changed his approach to painting while living in Tucson’s desert in 1937-38. He used universal symbols that transcended time, place, and language to appeal to the level of the unconscious mind and to offer a pathway of release from a trouble-ridden period in history.
“He wanted his art to have the same impact on all his viewers, striking a chord not because they had seen it before, but because it was so basic and elemental that it resounded within them.” Julio Gonzalez
Acrylics on Canvas, 24” x 24”
TRADITIONAL SYMBOLS IN CURSIVE
Homage to Ida Kohlmeyer (1912-1997)
“I selected a feminine and soft cursive font for Ida. Since she used the title “Symbols” for many of her paintings, it seemed fitting she would represent traditional glyphs associated with the aleph-bet. “ Lynn Rae
ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONIST. Ida’s enduring interest in the native arts began on her honeymoon. She was a traditional Southern housewife, taking her first class only after her second child was in school. She found herself astonished and moved by the spiritual aspect of painting. Influenced by Miro and his informal grid-like style.
“I’ve experienced an elevation of spirit, almost a mystical happening, where I am not doing the painting. It evolves under its own mysterious power. This exquisite state of being simulates a religious experience.” Ida Kohlmeyer
Homage to Keith Haring (1958-1990)
“I find when I research so much, study with intensity or push myself to achieve a personal goal, I can lose touch with the joy of my objective. Haring kept me inspired and smiling.” Lynn Rae
POP ART. Haring achieved his Pop/Comic Art through whimsical graphic design and primacy of line. He created a visual language of vivid color and active figures that brings together man and the world.
“Art should be something that liberates your soul, provokes the imagination and encourages people to go further.” Keith Haring
Gesso Board and Canvas, 22 @ 8” x 8”
Homage to Mark Rothko (1903-1970)
“I selected Rothko to hide the letters in the color field to see if you, the viewer, can evoke any meaning when looking at the paintings. He advocated standing 18 feet away but since these panels are so small, I advise you stand 18” away.” Lynn Rae
ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM/COLOR FIELD. Freud, Jung and collective unconsciousness archetypes influenced Rothko. Nietzsche influenced his artistic goal of relieving modern man’s spiritual emptiness. Rothko wanted maximum interpretation without hindrance. Luminous colored rectangles were used as simplified means evoking emotional responses.
“I'm not an abstractionist. I'm not interested in the relationship of color or form or anything else. I'm interested only in expressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on.” Mark Rothko
Acrylics on Canvas, 27 @ 8” x 10”
THE 32 FORMS OF THE ALEPH-BET
Homage to Audrey Flack (1931 - )
“Traditionally preschoolers learn the aleph- bet using cuddly animals, fruits and vegetables. Mimicking Audrey Flak’s photorealism technique I wanted to engage a larger audience. I selected colored pencils where the aleph bet is portrayed with a single familiar object to appeal to children of all ages who love color.” Lynn Rae
PHOTO REALISM. As a pioneer of this art genre, she incorporated projecting photographs as an aid to painting. She emphasized symbolism to create “universal” work that all can relate to and understand.
“What makes for great art is the courage to speak and write and paint what you know and care about.” Audrey Flack
AFTER THE BIG BANG
Kabbalists identify the source of energy in the universe as Light. Before the Big Bang, before our universe and planet, the Light was the only thing that existed.
The nature of the Light is that of endless giving. As such, in order to share Its essence, It needed to create something to receive all Its beneficence. The contained Light created is what Kabbalists call the vessel. And that vessel is us: all souls, past and present.
The vessel could not hold the Light and therefore shattered the shells that held it, klipot, and they fell to earth. They became the goal of souls to redeem those qualities as their mission on earth. The Sephirot, are the vessels images in this diagram of the Kabbalstic Tree of Life. There are ten that interact with each other, with three pillars and 32 paths of wisdom. Kabbalists use the individual as well as the relationships to help define the individual vessel's potential as a guidepost to connect with deeper wisdom regarding our existence.
The Kabbalists, since the 16th century, call this moment of restriction as with- drawing of the Light Tzimtzum. Black holes were seen as the light bending. As of 1931 modern science has called it the Big Bang. Science now speaks of the formation of the universe in terms of the how of the story of creation. The Ancient Kabbalah, beginning in the 13th century, focused on the why.
It is a road map to our personal journey.
Keep the light on!
GEMATRIA, LETTERS AS NUMBERS
Homage to Jules Olitski (1922-2007)
COLOR FIELD: Olitski excelled in the Color Field School of Art. He stained and sprayed pure color, as I do with my Aluminations®. Creating a clock allowed me to incorporate color with numbers to illustrate that Israeli clocks still use letters for the hours, to this day. Gematria is the same concept of letters having numerical value. Aleph to Yud represent 1 to 10; Chaf to Tzadi = 20 to 90; Kuf to Tav = 100 to 400. The numbers are figured in the same way Roman numerals are combined, as IV equals 4 or LXX equals 70.
"Color in color is felt at any and every place of the pictorial organization; in its immediacy - its particularity. Color must be felt throughout." Jules Olitski
AHAVAH, THE HEART OF THE MATTER
Homage to Jim Dine (1935- )
“This was the first artist I used in this exhibit because it is the symbol of אהבה Ahava, Love.” ~Lynn Rae
POP ART. In 1962, Dine joined Lichtenstein, Warhol and others in a groundbreaking exhibit, New Painting of Common Objects. This exhibition is historically considered one of the first Pop Art exhibitions in America where everyday objects took on new significance.
“We deal with letters every day, they are so common we don’t notice them. They are caught up in words.” Jim Dine
Watercolor, 22” x 28” with frame
STA”M is an acronym for the calligraphy used for sacred documents such as Torah, Tefillin and Mezuzot. This Bet Ari writing style has tagin (crowns) on many of its letters. Traditional script of Rabbi Issac Luria, the Arizal was used by Eron the soferim (scribe) I studied with in Israel. Referred to as Siddur Script it is also used in siddurs (prayer books), ketubahs (marriage contracts) and birth certificates.
I brought the scribe torn edged rice paper monoprints that I made in Tucson before I left for Israel. I divided the rice paper patterns into 4 sections to represent fire earth air and water. The final endeavor creates an easy way to see which letter is associated with what element.
Adonai s’fatai tiftach Ufee yagid t’hilatecha My Lord, Open my lips, that my mouth may declare your glory.
When I first started creating Judaic art, I looked for opportunities to show how Jews and Muslims are connected. An example is my award winning Mizrach.
Focusing on shared similarities rather than differences for this exhibit I wanted to creative a visual connection between The Hebrew Shalom and Arabic Salaam. They are both mean PEACE and are derivations of the Proto-Semitic root Š-L-M.
As I conceptualized the interaction of these words I found by placing them on their side facing each other an image of two people having a conversation reiterated my philosophy.
Sharing conversations with “others” helps us to learn more about ourselves and the world we co-inhabit.
Acrylic & Aluminum, 12" x 20.5" x 39"h
HOW THE PARTS MAKE THE WHOLE
Homage to Louise Nevelson (1899-1988)
“Certainly as a woman sculptor I feel connected to Louise, but I was thrilled when I realized she also studied metaphysics. I admire her strength and determination to begin again and again to achieve her goal of following her soul’s heart desire.” Lynn Rae
Louise is an abstract expressionist sculptor of monumental, monochromatic, wall pieces and outdoor sculptures. Her wood collages can be described as a process starting with singular objects turning them into complex parts, which collectively create the whole experience. This echoes how individual letters create words.
“If you study metaphysics you’ll see that we can get out of ourselves. And maybe there is a bit of danger– So what? You have to have the courage to try. What would you do with life if you didn’t risk it?” L. Nevelson
Aleph, Recycled Steel, 41.5" x 21.5"
FIRE, EARTH, AIR & WATER
This was the first effort to see if there was a pattern within the Aleph-bet to Fire Earth Air and Water. Here, as in the Sofer Stam’s formal style of calligraphy, there is no order to the elements but an interesting pattern emerged. What I realized by laying out the letters in this fashion is there is no pattern to the elements and the Otiyot (letters), but the concept of assigned elements still has metaphysical importance and attribution.
Mixed Media on Paper, 20” x 24” with frame
GATES OF TSFAT: 32 PATHS TO WISDOM
The 32 paths of wisdom are related to the word ‘heart’. In Hebrew, the word for heart, Läv – לב. , has the gematria value of 32.
Since 2010, I have returned to Tsfat, the Mystical City carved into a hill, four times. Since the first time I wandered the white stoned paths, I was intrigued by what laid beyond its gates. The Kabbalah began there in the 16th century and is connected to Sefer Yetzirah which begins, "With thirty-two mystical paths of wisdom God (Yah...) engraved and created His universe.”
The idea of using my gates to create an image that evoked a journey through the Gates of Wisdom was a collaboration with my grandson Samuel Alexander and a ten-year dream realized.
Fine Art Print, 28” x 36” x 1” with frame
22 VEHICLES OF LIGHT
“Forever the words of G-d are hanging in the heavens.” Psalms 119:89
The painted image of this Alumination represents what we read in Genesis on how G-d created the heavens, the dry land and the seas.
“The crucial thing to realize is that G‑d did not merely create the world once. His words didn’t emerge and evaporate. Rather, G‑d continues to create the world anew each and every moment. His words are there constantly, ‘hanging in the heavens.’ And the aleph-bet is the foundation of this ongoing process of creation.” Rabbi Yisrael Baal Shem Tov
Aluminum, 22” x 28” x 1”
IN THE BEGINNING
And G-d said, “Let there be light,
And there was light" Genesis 1:3
Light has always been the most favored metaphor for all forms of revelation. We speak of "G-dly light," "Divine light," the "new light" of the Redemption. We use expressions such as, "Do you still walk in darkness or have you seen the light?"
As physical light brightens our path so we don't stumble over obstacles, so the light of G-dliness, our spiritual awareness, helps us avoid the pitfalls on the journey of life. Light represents truth, eternal values, the spiritual, which transcends the mundane, and the temporal.
It is my sincere prayer your journey through this exhibition will shine a light on your path and offer you the inspiration of ancient symbolism wisdom.
Aluminum, 28” x 28” x 2”
TREE OF LIFE
"The Tree of Life is a universal symbol found in many spiritual and mythological traditions around the world. It symbolizes many things, including wisdom, protection, strength, bounty, beauty, and redemption." Lynn Rae
In Kabbalah, the Etz Hayim is mystical symbol to understand the nature of God and the manner inchicch the world was created.
“It is a tree of life for those who draw near it are fortunate.” Proverb 3:1, 18
Mizrach is Hebrew for East. Traditionally, it is the direction Jews turn toward to pray, just as the Islamic people do. With both of these religions it is a reminder of the spiritual connection to Jerusalem.
This direction is traditionally considered the beginning point. It is for this reason both Jewish and Islamic people turn to the east, Jerusalem, to begin their day with prayer and meditation.
You can begin your own ritual at home by facing East each morning with a prayer and a moment of silent reflective thought.
A Mizrach is often hung on the East wall of a home reminding one Jerusalem throughout the day.
THE SOUL’S MISSION
According to the Talmud, before we were born, safely ensconced in the comfort of the womb, each soul (nefesh) had a personal angel in utero, who teaches us all the wisdom we will ever need to know on this planet. Everything. And then… just before we are born, the angel gives us a little “tap” between the nose and the upper lip and everything is forgotten.
Your Souls Mission is to remember
and achieve what you were taught.
Watercolor, 17” x 24” with Frame
NIKUDOT AS VOWELS
When I created Flack’s vibrantly colored aleph-bet of pencils, I realized I had to do the nikudot– the vowels– as educational tools, companion pieces. I found Morris Louis, who held his large paintings learning to control the flow and stain of rivulets of color. This created an image of a funnel like vessel holding the vowels and complemented Flack while both held their own styles. My Aluminations® are created in the same way as Louis did his stained canvases, holding them and dancing them into being.
"I am distrustful of oversimplifications but nonetheless think that there is nothing very new in any period of art: what is true is that it is only something new for the painter & that this thin edge is what matters." Louis Morris
Watercolor, 28” x 28” with frame
"For this piece of ritual art the letters of Shalom are arranged from top to bottom. Shalom is the traditional greeting and farewell salutation as well as the word for Peace. "After the lighting of the Erev Shabbath candles my family and guests embrace one another with the joyful wish of Shabbat Shalom. Try it, you’ll like it." Lynn Rae