Friday, February 8, 2013

Symbolic Content of "Treatise"

The entire installation of Treatise, © 2013 Lynn Goldstein, books, wood and acrylic paint

I mentioned in my previous post that I would explain all the symbolism inherent in the piece that I made to commemorate the Holocaust The symbolism in the installation is as follows:

Why Books—
Education is an important tenet in the Jewish tradition. Books are also everyday objects that many take for granted. The "everyday" was forever altered for those who were persecuted during the Holocaust. Books also tell stories of people’s lives, so their use is particularly poignant given the lives that were destroyed. The book covers are not damaged, but the interiors of the books are distressed in various ways. The reason behind the decision to maintain the integrity of the book covers is to indicate that we all have stories; these stories are often hidden by the masks that we wear, but often, if one scratches the surface, wounds are apparent. The books are printed in Polish, Russian, German, Italian, French and Yiddish. That choice was an important one because the people tyrannized during the Holocaust were not foreign enemies, but citizens of the very governments that attempted to  annihilate them. The Yiddish book illustrates that the Jewish people were not completely destroyed and that a ray of hope still existed after World War II ended. Twelve books are used to symbolize the twelve tribes of Israel. The Jewish forefather, Jacob, fathered twelve sons and they are the ancestors of the Tribes of Israel.

Why a Tree Image—
Trees are an important symbol in many religious traditions. In Judaism, the tree is referred to as the Tree of Life and is a symbol that sustains and nourishes human beings. The Torah, or Jewish Written Law, is also referred to as the Tree of Life. The tree that I have drawn on the covers of the books is either dead or dormant. Further, the tree image is fractured rather than being solid since it is made up of different pieces. This is to symbolize the lives that were broken. However, there is hope expressed by the sapling that is depicted on the cover of the Yiddish book, which is in the lower right corner of the installation.

Why a Rack—
Again, I endeavored to utilize an object that had the appearance of an item that could be used every day.

Why a Pitcher, Bowl and Towel —
After attending a Jewish funeral and visiting the gravesite, one would not enter the home of the bereaved without rinsing one’s hands. There are those who would believe this practice is a way to banish evil spirits, and there are others who would simply see it as a life-affirming ritual after an encounter with death. The books have pastel on them. Therefore, when handled, pastel will get on viewer's hands. The water in the pitcher is there for visitor's to rinse off the pastel. This symbolizes the fact that if we hurt one another, we are all affected by the pain that is inflicted.

James and I will be installing the piece at the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia on February 11 where it will be on view until April 15.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Resistance Through Art #3

Treatise, © 2013 Lynn Goldstein,  almost completed!

The book covers are painted, the interiors distressed, the rack completed, and I just have the final touches to consider before I call the art DONE! I have had this piece on my mind for quite awhile now, so it feels as if I am just about to complete a really good book. I am looking forward to finding out the end of the story, but know that I will miss reading it when I am finished.

The early stages of paint on the book covers
I want to thank everyone who has helped with the process. I could not have done it without each person who offered help. My sister-in-law Kasia contacted a friend of hers in Poland who sent me four novels in Polish. Several students located books in Russian, German and Yiddish for me to utilize. One of my friends who is living in Italy brought books for me from there. As mentioned before, another student, Ken Ferris, offered his marksmanship to shoot the books. The firing range was great for opening up their establishment (Sharpshooters)  for us before normal business hours, so that we could shoot the books, and then didn't charge us for the privilege. My friend, and fellow artist, Crystal Rodrigue, gave me a stool to use for the final touch, which helped keep me from continued obsessing (long story that I will not share for fear of obsessing). And, finally, a gigantic thanks goes to James MacLeod for the terrific rack that he fabricated for me. James is a woodworker extraordinaire!

I have included a couple of  photographs to show the piece almost completed.... I will have one more posting to show the piece installed and to explain the symbolism involved.. Thanks for reading.

The work shown at an angle in order to see the terrific rack made by James MacLeod
Treatise © 2013 Lynn Goldstein