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Tag Archives: ketubah
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.
BLOG TOUR . . .
A wonderful artist and compassionate spirit, Catherine Meyers, from Catherine Meyers Art Blog, invited me to participate in a Blog Tour. It’s been going on for a while, with many wonderful studios involved! So in order to participate, I’ll answer a few questions and then introduce the next couple of artists who will be the next stops on the Blog Tour.
What am I working on? I have been creating works of calligraphy and illumination. I specialize in the Ketubah (illustrated Jewish marriage contract, a folk art.) Since marriage season is in full swing, I’ve been busy writing out texts by hand in calligraphy with hand-painted, customized illustrations. I’ve also been producing art for reproduction, where the image is printed with a digitally-produced text that I generate in a graphics program. Here are some recent works:
I also participated in a gallery show in March at ARC Gallery called Fractured Yet Rising, about violence against women, where I hand-wrote one of my poems on the gallery wall.
How does my work differ from others of its genre? I think of myself as a painter who includes calligraphy, rather than a calligrapher who decorates text.
Why do I write/create what I do? I was raised in a family environment that was richly steeped in my Jewish cultural heritage, and text (reading lots of books, learning to read and write Hebrew as a child) was a big part of this. So, it seems natural that text would be an integral part of my artistic expression, along with narrative imagery. I also am a people person, and I find the collaborative aspect of my work to be very joyous and inspiring.
How does your writing/creating process work? My commissioned work begins with people requesting a ketubah. I interview them and sketch, which leads to the finished work. For work I produce independently, I work with ideas or materials that engage me, and this feels more like play.
So, now you know a little more about me, let me introduce you to the next amazing artists in the tour.
Peggy Schutze Shearn is a Chicago area painter whose work incorporates letterforms, abstract calligraphy and text into colorful semi-abstractions. Her sense of color and pattern is gorgeous.
Nancy Charak is a committed abstract expressionist who makes paintings and drawings in Tucson, Arizona, recently transplanted from Chicago. Her watercolors are sensitive and reflective of nature.
New ketubah: inspired by the beautiful skyline of Chicago, as seen from out on Lake Michigan. This is a new interpretation of an earlier painting, which I created for my son Cameron and his wonderful wife, Blake, for the save-the-date for their wedding:
Blake’s beautiful mom, Raina, just married her beloved, Jeff, and they asked me to create a ketubah for them inspired by the earlier painting I had done for Blake and Cam.
When I look at Raina and Jeff, I can see the sparks fly between them, so I suggested we add fireworks. Raina asked for lots of flowers, which is also appropriate for love, joy and the motto of the City of Chicago: “Urbs In Horto”, which means, “City In A Garden.”
So much joy and fun for our family this year! Blessings and joy to both couples! See it here on my website.
My new ketubah design is available on museum quality paper or canvas, for more information click here.
I get a funny feeling when someone brings me a piece of my work from decades ago. I’m nervous. Will the work look awkward? Will it look amateurish? Will this work of art be the painted equivalent of looking in a mirror and seeing a juvenile version of myself, with braces on my teeth and pimples on my face?
The oddest thing is when I don’t even remember the work. I look at it, and I recognize the style, it’s unmistakably mine, yet I have no recollection of having made it.
The ketubah pictured here was made for a dear friend’s wedding in 1983. I must have been in a hurry, because I didn’t get a photo of it, which is very unusual for me. She moved with it far away, and I didn’t see it (although I have seen her) for at least 25 years.
She recently loaned me the ketubah so I could photograph it for my portfolio. I never did a similar work, before or since. The arches in the ketubah are cut into 4-ply ragboard, so there is a layered, dimensional quality. I used metallic gold ricepaper, which is still shiny. I was in a phase of using silhouetted dancers in my paintings, they appear here.
I look in the mirror of the past, and I see my younger self, smiling and joyous for my friend.
What is it like for you, when you see something you made many years ago?
The Jewish Art Salon and the Kraft Center present: Get Lucky: Amulets and Ketubah Art by Judith Joseph.
Art Exhibit curated by organized by the Jewish Art Salon.
Location: The Columbia / Barnard Kraft Center, 606 West 115th Street, New York, NY 10025
Date: Thursday April 18, 2013
6 – 7 PM Opening Reception, Free & Open to the Public
7 – 8 PM Panel Discussion Still, Small Voice in a Noisy World: Jewish Heritage and Contemporary Art. Panelists: Judith Joseph, Alison Kruvant and Isaac Peterson, moderated by Buzz Slutzky.
Exhibit Hours: April 18 – May 20, Sunday – Thursday 9-8, Friday 9-1.
The art of Judith Joseph springs from illuminated manuscripts: decorated, hand-written texts. She loves miniature medieval illustrations with their quirky, often bizarre imagery that ranges from holy inspiration to bawdy violence. Her love of letters encompasses both their calligraphic form and the story they tell.
She started making ketubahs (hand-written, decorated Jewish marriage contracts) at the age of 17, beginning a journey with this art form that has lasted decades and produced some 500 commissioned, original works. She has grown up with the ketubah, and it has grown with her.
Judith’s paintings often contain Hebrew lettering. Her series of hamsa (amulet) paintings began when she painted one for each of her three adult sons, when they moved far from home. She used unstretched canvas, so the paintings could be easily rolled and transported from place to place. She used thehamsa symbol: a hand blocking the evil eye, an ancient image found in Mediterranean countries. The hamsa is often worn during childbirth.
Judith believes in the power of images as a way to focus our intent and will, and the power of words to guide us. Each hamsa image is encircled with a ribbon containing Hebrew inscriptions of the names of archangels (Michael, Raphael, Yuriel, Uzziel, Ezriel, etc.) The letters create a dynamic, dancing border, stand-ins for human beings, as we are expected to create a “fence around the Torah.” (Pirke Avot, 1.1)
More project info:
Jewish Art Salon (with web images): http://www.jewishartsalon.com/2013/03/get-lucky-amulets-and-ketubah-art-by.html
Directions: #1 Train to 116 St, Buses M4, M5, M104 to 116 St. M60 Bus from 125 St Metro-North.
606 West 115th Street, just west off Broadway.
The Jewish Art Salon is a global community of artists and art professionals. It organizes exhibitions, panel discussions and programming with leading international artists and scholars, in order to create an appreciation for innovative Jewish art in the contemporary art world.
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Yona VerwerPresident, Jewish ART Salon
I just finished this ketubah. It makes me yearn for little spring buds and new green leaves.