web analytics
April 1, 2015 / 12 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Home » Sections » Arts »

Thinking Outside The Tzeddakah Box

Weck-030912-FrontPg

Abrasha. Tzedakah Box (1999). 5.25 x 3.5 inches. Stainless steel, brass, machined, inlaid, hand fabricated, laser engraved.

The tzeddakah box by Abrasha is similarly abstract to Rosenberg’s more Baroque floral patterns. The circular box is silver, with two yellow stripes (horizontal) and the word tzeddakah rendered in black, loosely in the font of a Torah scroll—down to the “crown” on the first letter, tzadik.

If the top wasn’t so smooth and rounded, something about Abrasha’s box conveys a bullet. It also suggests some type of cosmetic container. But due to its shape and the two stripes, it also could be a pile of coins—perhaps mostly dimes, but with a few pennies mixed in—which would then amount to form following content.

The various clay tzeddakahboxes by Emmett Leader are very different. Inspired by photographs of Eastern European wooden synagogues and gravestones—part of the world he says his grandparents had inhabited—Leader borrows from what he calls the “vernacular architecture of the wooden shules and the bold imagery and Hebrew text that adorned their tent-shaped interiors.” In them, he says he finds “a reflection of an intensely focused social, political and religious agenda.”

Emmett Leader. Slonim V—Tzedakah Box (2008). 12 x 8 x 12 inches. Press-molded and hand-built clay, terra sigillata glaze, gold leaf, red earthenware.

Leader’s tzeddakah boxes seem to be houses in their own right, and he adorns many of them with familiar visual elements, like figures from the Bird’s Head Haggadah. The palette and treatment of the clay conveys monumentality, as well, which somehow sidesteps the question of what the appropriate décor is for an alms receptacle. Not only are the boxes house-like, but they resemble temples far more ancient than their age. They also suggest a type of architecture that is either lost, or has fallen into disrepair, and that pining back (no pun intended) and nostalgia also seems quite appropriate for a tzeddakah box.

The houses that are Mallory Serebrin Jacob’s tzeddakah boxes convey far less sobriety and classical formality than Leader’s works. Serebrin’s houses—tzeddakah boxes are playful, colorful, and childlike in their perspective. Flowers or birds perch on the house/box roofs, and patterns, symbols (like hamsas, celestial bodies, Ten Commandments, Stars of David, etc.), and Hebrew and English inscriptions can be found on the walls and roofs.

Mallory Serebrin Jacobs. Tzedakah Box—Fiesta. Height:11 inches.

Tzaddikim say little and do much—Talmud” appears on one piece. “We make a living by what we get, but we get a life by what we give—Churchill,” is inscribed on another.

Although they have a lot of visual appeal, Serebrin’s tzeddakah boxes are more of the kitschy variety. They are sure to grab attention, and they would make great toys in a nursery, but they seem to represent the more superficial parts of the tzeddakah box tradition. This is particularly evident when they are compared with some of the other alms receptacles found in the 500 Judaica: Innovative Contemporary Ritual Art which present more mature and provocative investigations of the tzeddakah box tradition.

The competition jury is still out on where the AJWS submissions will fall on the spectrum between innovation and derivation, but it’s a great excuse to consider a type of ritual object that doesn’t necessarily get enough attention otherwise.

Menachem Wecker, who blogs on faith and art for the Houston Chronicle at http://blog.chron.com/iconia, welcomes comments at mwecker@gmail.com.

About the Author: Menachem Wecker, who blogs on faith and art for the Houston Chronicle at http://blogs.chron.com/iconia, welcomes comments at mwecker@gmail.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Thinking Outside The Tzeddakah Box”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Obama Stops Punishing Egypt for Dumping Muslim Brotherhood Prez
Latest Sections Stories
Food-Talk---Eller-logo

While we are all accustomed to the occasional recipe substitutions – swapping milk for creamer, applesauce for oil – gluten-free cooking is a whole different ballgame.

Something-Cooking-logo

Until the year I decided to put a stop to all my tremors. I realized that if I wanted my family to experience Pesach and its preparations as uplifting and fulfilling, I’d have to relax and loosen up.

Teens-032715

David looked up. “Hatzlacha, Dina,” he smiled. “I hope everything goes well.”

In 1756, when the ominous threat of Islamic terror against Jews reached Tunis as well, Friha became one of its tragic victims.

Are we allowed to lie for shalom bayis? It would seem so, but what might be a healthy guideline for when it’s okay and when it’s not?

The connection between what I experienced as a high school teenager and the adult I am today did not come easy to me.

Isn’t therapy about being yourself; aren’t there different ways for people to communicate with each other?

Jack was awarded a blue and gold first-place trophy, appropriately topped off with a golden bee.

Participating in ManiCures during the school day may feel like a break from learning, but the intended message to the students was loud and clear. Learning and chesed come in all forms, and can be fun.

Building campaign chairman Jack Gluck has led the effort over many years.

When using an extension cord always make sure to use the correct rated extension cord.

There was no question that when Mrs. Cohen entered the room to meet the teacher she was hostile from the outset.

Szold was among the founders and leaders (she served on its executive committee) of Ichud (“Unity”), a political group that campaigned against the creation of an independent, sovereign Jewish state in Eretz Yisrael.

My friend is a strong and capable Jewish woman, but she acted with a passivity that seemed out of character.

More Articles from Menachem Wecker
Menachem Wecker

The exhibit, according to a statement from guest curator Michele Waalkes which is posted on the museum website, “examines how faith can inform and inspire artists in their work, whether their work is symbolic, pictorial, or textual in nature. It further explores how present-day artwork can lead audiences to ponder God, religious themes, venerated traditions, or spiritual insights.”

Weck-051812

It all started at an art and education conference at the Yeshiva University Museum. When one of the speakers misidentified a Goya painting at the Frick Collection, both the gentleman sitting next to me and I turned to each other and corrected the error simultaneously.

One of my favorite places when I was growing up in Boston was the used bookstore on Beacon and St. Mary’s streets. Boston Book Annex could play a used bookshop on television; it was dimly lit and cavernous, crawling with cats, and packed with a dizzying array of books, many of which sold three for a dollar. But used bookstores of this sort, however picturesque and inviting, are a relatively modern phenomena. In the Middle Ages, for example, I would never have been able to afford even a single used book unless I had been born into an aristocratic family. (Full disclosure, I was not.)

Jewish medals, several with Hebrew inscriptions and provocative imagery, were among the gems at The European Art Fair (TEFAF) in Maastricht, Netherlands, as I wrote in these pages two weeks ago. Another mini-trend at the fair, which will interest Jewish art aficionados, was an abundance of works by Marc Chagall.

It’s virtually impossible to ignore the financial aspects of TEFAF Maastricht, the annual arts and antiques fair in the historic city about two hours south of Amsterdam. More than 250 dealers from nearly 20 countries sell their wares—which span from Greek and Roman antiquities to contemporary sculptures—in the halls of the Maastricht Exhibition and Congress Centre, whose corridors are adorned by nearly 65,000 tulips.

Max Ferguson’s 1993 painting Katz’s may be the second most iconic representation of the kosher-style delicatessen after the 1989 Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan film, When Harry Met Sally. Ferguson’s photorealistic painting depicts the deli from an interesting perspective, which is simultaneously inviting and hostile—in short, the dichotomy of deli culture.

The whole idea of an artful pushka (tzeddakah or charity box) is almost a tease, if not an outright mockery. Isn’t there something pretty backward about investing time and money in an ornate container to hold alms for the poor?

Located about nine miles north of Madrid, the Palacio Real de El Pardo (Pardo Palace) dates back to the early 15th century. Devastated by a March 13, 1604 fire that claimed many works from its priceless art collection, the Pardo Palace and its vast gardens were used as a hunting ground by the Spanish monarchs.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/arts/thinking-outside-the-tzeddakah-box/2012/03/09/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: