Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Catch Train

My calendar has this entry for Sunday, April 3, at 4:30 - "Catch train."
I wonder where I'm going.


                                  Small House Uncertain Walls, 11" x 18" x 18",
                                         rolled newsaper, Hebrew and Arabic

“Yiddish” is the Yiddish word for Jewish, so Yiddishkayt means Jewishness, not necessarily as it relates to speaking Yiddish, the language.

At the coming meeting of my Jewish Women Artists group, we will be speaking on this topic: “Is there something in our DNA which compels us (or not) to express our Yiddishkayt in our art? (or close, we are each free to go off on a tangent if we wish, within an informal boundary). But I can speak directly to this. I am Jewish, a woman, an artist in equal measure, separately and inseparably. Yiddishkayt is so fastened to my bones that (probably) no recent work of art that I create escapes its influence, and if it isn't apparent, it’s just under the surface. My need to put at least one single aleph or beys into the lines somewhere begins at the inception of the piece and is there for the duration.

My paper sculptures are clear about this. If they contain Hebrew and/or Yiddish and/or Arabic they are satisfying, and if not, something seems missing - though not to observers, as other, formal issues are addressed too in these works. My older works were content with other languages. My Yiddishkayt seems now to be intensifying daily, and I can no longer avoid it.

Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain, Wisconsin, Tea, about these I certainly have opinions, but if I am slightly off in the current pool of information, I’ll just listen. But Israel and Gaza and the West Bank, about these I must know (but cannot) everything happening, every opinion on all sides, so that I can make a fair statement (which always seems to need adjustment). And this is what goes into my current sculpture, this great longing for resolution, this mind-bending conflict of emotions, which nevertheless I address quietly, with straight lines, squares, and big airy spaces, in the hope of bringing some peace at least to myself, a somewhat Buddhist idea possibly.

Please see my previous posts:  Alphabets of the Middle East (Feb 11, 2011), and Works of Paper (Jan 18, 2011).

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mary Floresta

Mary Floresta, age 26, born in Italy, married, mother of one child, leaped to her death from the 9th floor of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory, March 25, 1911, as fire raged and all but one exit were locked, and the one was no longer accessible.  Fire nets below didn't hold.  From the time the fire started until it was put under control by the fire department, 20 minutes had passed and 146 were dead.

Dialog with the Weaver, oil pastel over acrylic

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Gloom to Laughter

                                     Journal Entry on a Wind Swept Day,
                                      water color crayon, oil pastel, pencil
                                                      14" x 19"

Monday, March 21, 2011


For some reason, time isn't passing.  It's hardly later than it was an hour ago.  I can do it all.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

More about lines, and space

In two dimensions, on a canvas or on a wall or on paper, you start out with a solid, although it may be paper thin.  Lines are on it, they are not IT.  I want to capture space when I work in 3-D, Fred Sandback being my idol here.  But unlike Sandback, for most of my work I have had another idea, a concept that goes along, a story attached, like in House Divided at the side.  I've been using rolled newspapers of particular languages because rolled newspapers of random languages make no sense to me, why use newspaper?  But actually rolled newspaper is quite beautiful.  English will do, or Yiddish, the two languages I speak, and maybe they don't have to have a story.  I want to capture space.  Geometry is very meaningful to me, and beautiful as well, though wasn't to Sandback, at least that's what he said.  I am speaking in unvoiced language, including any system that conveys wordless meaning.

                         All that I know and All That I Want 5, water color & pencil, 10 x 16

Of course it is very possible to depict deep space in a painting or drawing.  But when I draw, I acknowledge that the lines are on a solid thing.  Space does not pass through.  So line becomes something else entirely for me, though line is always the start of anything I do, often in the form of text, even when in the end it's no longer visible.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

International Women's Day and Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire

I didn't even know it, and only one student in my Yiddish class knew that Tuesday was International Women's Day, which our teacher, Kolya, spoke of at length.  Here we just know about Women's History Month, or I just know, my big confession, though about the Month I know very well.  The day was established March 8, 1911, and so Tuesday was the 100th anniversary.  17 days later was the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, March 25, 1911, which we remember with a procession and many events around the city, both Friday the 25th and Sunday the 27th.  Here's info;

I'll be in the procession, starting from Union Square at 10, carrying a banner with one of the names of the 146 victim.  Events at Washington Place and Greene street, where the factory was, start at 11, music followed at noon by speakers.

The sparks of that fire ignited the great movement for social justice, women's rights, and workers' rights.  And yesterday the Wisconsin Republicans found a way to pass their anti-collective bargaining law. 

And you who philosophize disgrace, and criticize all fear.  Bury the rag deep in your face, for now is the time for your tears.  Bob Dylan.