web analytics
September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Home » Sections » Arts »

Weisberg’s Visions


Creation: Children Dancing (detail from The Scroll) (1987) mixed media on paper by Ruth Weisberg. Courtesy Skirball Cultural Center.

Creation: Children Dancing (detail from The Scroll) (1987) mixed media on paper by Ruth Weisberg. Courtesy Skirball Cultural Center.

Ruth Weisberg Unfurled
(2007 catalogue of exhibition at Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA)

There is a special class of Jewish artists who toil in the rich fields of Tanach and Jewish practice for years and years, quietly establishing a foundation of visual and intellectual markers for generation of artists to come. Ruth Weisberg is clearly one of these founders. Her seminal work articulates an approach to the Jewish narrative deeply informed by a Jewish feminism.

In 2007 the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles hosted a large retrospective surveying 30 years of Weisberg’s works. Along with 30 other artworks, the dramatic centerpiece of the show was The Scroll, a 94 foot long mixed media drawing that is an exploration of how Jewish history can be visually reflected in a personal narrative. Many of the other significant works evidence Weisberg’s concerns with Jewish memory and experiences.

The Past: The Great Synagogue of Danzig (1984) oil on canvas by Ruth Weisberg. Courtesy Skirball Cultural Center

The Past: The Great Synagogue of Danzig (1984) oil on canvas by Ruth Weisberg. Courtesy Skirball Cultural Center

The Past: The Great Synagogue of Danzig (1984) sets the tone for these musings by depicting nine children holding hands in front of the an apparition of the ill fated house of worship. First built in 1887 this synagogue soon became an important center for the German Reform movement. It fell victim to the waves of anti-Semitism in 1938 and was finally demolished by the Nazis in 1939. The children stand as a stark paradox to the historic façade, sweetly smiling as innocent survivors of the Holocaust. Their clothes echo the troubled past in ghettoized Poland and yet their smiles radiate a deeply hopeful future.

The Story of Ruth and Naomi (1988) Oil on canvas by Ruth Weisberg. Courtesy Jack Rutberg Fine Arts, L.A.

The Story of Ruth and Naomi (1988) Oil on canvas by Ruth Weisberg. Courtesy Jack Rutberg Fine Arts, L.A.

Weisberg believes that “the Bible is most potent when we find our own stories in its narratives,” and ponders its consequences in The Story of Ruth and Naomi (1988). The image appears disarmingly simple. Naomi on the left has paused as Ruth approaches and implores her “for where you go, I will go, where you lodge, I will lodge, your people are my people and your God is my God…” Complexity arises as we notice that ‘Naomi’ is partially transparent, the landscape horizon clearly visible through her upper torso. Perhaps more significantly, the two women look almost identical, as if they were projections of each other. It is this insight that leads us to remember that both have been tragically widowed; both have lost everything and face uncertain future prospects. In reality they only have each other as a veritable reflection of need and vulnerability. The mystery and tenderness of this work opens up the Ruth narrative as no other.

Teaching painting, drawing and printmaking at the University of Southern California since 1970 Weisberg quickly became a leader in the growing Jewish feminist movement. Those times of questioning and exploration combined with a growing commitment to Jewish learning and observance to drive much of her artwork into Jewish themes with a feminist cast. Additionally her study at the Academia di Belle Arti in Perugia, Italy and a visiting artist residency at the American Academy in Rome cemented a lifelong love of the Italian Renaissance and classical techniques.

In Genesis: A Woman’s Voice, Weisberg’s series of figures underwater are a potent combination of Jewish ritual, i.e. the Mikveh and a classical approach to the female form. This series of mixed media on paper, oil on canvas and monotypes are a unique exploration of the deeply peaceful and meditative experience that mikveh evokes along with a startling modern abstract painterly sensibility in depicting the manifold underwater reflections that dapple the walls, floor and floating figures. These works are transformative of both the mikveh experience and modern painterly figuration.

Creation: Angel and Baby (detail from The Scroll) (1987) mixed media on paper by Ruth Weisberg. Courtesy Skirball Cultural Center.

Creation: Angel and Baby (detail from The Scroll) (1987) mixed media on paper by Ruth Weisberg. Courtesy Skirball Cultural Center.

About the Author: Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art. Contact him at rmcbee@nyc.rr.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 “Weisberg’s Visions”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Former PM Ehud Olmert at Tel Aviv District Court hears his sentence on May 13, 2014. (archive)
Ehud Olmert’s ‘Talansky Affair’ Re-Opens in Jerusalem District Court
Latest Sections Stories
LBJ-082914

What better proof do we need than the recent war with Hamas in Gaza, dubbed “Operation Protective Edge,” that transformed the pain and suffering of three families into a sense of unparalleled unity and outpouring of love of the entire nation of Israel?

Katzman-082914

So many families are mourning, and all along we mourned with them.

Astaire-082914

In addition to his great erudition, Rabi Akiva was known for his optimism.

Kupfer-082914-Chuppah

She told me that she was busy and that he could sit in his wet clothes for the rest of the day. It would teach him to be more careful.

What can we do to help him stop feeling so sad all the time?

Children with dyslexia or dysgraphia frequently have problems in social relationships.

Israel’s neighbors engaged in hostilities from the onset. The War of Independence was a hard-won battle. Aggression and enmity has followed for 66 years.

The contest will include student-created sculpture, computer graphic design, collage, videography, PowerPoint and painting.

David, an 8-year-old boy on the autism spectrum, recently attended a Friendship Circle event. As he entered he told his Dad, “I love coming to the FC programs ‘cause everyone loves each other.”

Goldsmith himself went on his own “voyage of discovery” to the places where his grandfather and uncle landed and were sent.

Frank proclaimed himself Zvi’s successor and the reincarnation of King David.

You’re probably wondering why the greatest advocate of fast and easy preps in the kitchen is talking about layer cakes, right?

Almost immediately the audience began singing and clapping and continued almost without stop throughout the rest of the concert.

As of late, vintage has definitely been in vogue in the Orthodox community.

More Articles from Richard McBee
Jerusalem to Jericho Road: photograph by Chanan Getraide
“Chanan Getraide Photographs”: 2004 exhibition at Hebrew Union College Museum

“We are living in a Golden Age of Jewish Art, but don’t know it.”

McBee-062014-Outside

He refuses to flinch from our painful history, perhaps finding a kind of solace in the consistency of irrational enmity directed against us.

“Vidduy: The Musical” breaks through the formidable barrier of repetitive confession to allow us to begin to understand what is at the heart of this fundamental religious act.

A fascinating glimpse into the rich complexity of medieval Jewish life and its contemporary relevance had intriguingly emerged.

Silverstein’s work has long concerned itself with the intersection between the personal and Jewish Biblical narrative, significantly explored in this column in “Brighton Beach Bible” (July 27, 2009).

Not surprisingly the guardians of synagogue tradition is male dominated in both Moses Abraham, Cantor and Mohel and Synagogue Lamp Lighters.

Neither helpless victims nor able to escape the killer’s clutches, the leaders had to make impossible choices on a daily basis in a never-ending dance with the devil.

Bradford has opted to fully exploit the diverse possibilities of the physical surface by concentrating on the three-dimensional application of paint (impasto) and other material.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/arts/weisbergs-visions/2013/03/29/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: