I enjoyed transforming the story of a couple, Anna and Andrew, into visual motives for this ketubah (Jewish illustrated marriage contract). Andrew works in his family’s steel business. Casting steel is a wonderful metaphor for creating a new, strong relationship. Thus, the foundation of this design is the glowing forge, where a steelworker is pouring molten metal into the mold of a heart. The forge also symbolizes the hearth, source of warmth and sustenance in the home.
Extending the “building” metaphor, reading counter-clockwise from the bottom, there are steel girders, followed by a pair of bower birds. The male of this species creates an elaborate nest, which he decorates with colorful bits of paper and plastic, in hopes of wooing a mate. So romantic!
Above the birds is a huppah, symbol of the home Anna and Andrew will create together. Flying above the jasmine and hibiscus flowers is a hawk, a personal symbol for them. Chicago’s majestic skyline at sunset surmounts the circle. Continuing the circular motif are golden rings: wedding bands, symbols of eternal love. Here they double as microscope lenses, through which we see slides of healthy breast and cervical tissue. This represents Anna’s profession as a medical doctor, specializing in women’s health.
Returning to the personal narrative of Anna and Andrew, the circle is completed with a Lake Michigan sunset, as seen from the eastern shore, where they go to relax and unwind.
Finding a way to incorporate such disparate elements as the steel industry and gynecology was a wonderful challenge! Anna and Andrew gave me free rein, which helped me fulfill the commission while allowing my creative stream to flow, unimpeded.