Thursday, January 28, 2016

"Diaspora" Art Inspired by My Past

Diaspora, Mixed Media, © Lynn Goldstein

I have been so busy, moving studios and preparing for shows, that I forgot to post my most recent installation. This is a piece that I made to continue exploring aspects of Jewish history. It is quite different from the work that I ordinarily do, and I enjoy working outside the box (or in this case, outside the suitcase).

The piece is completely symbolic just as "Treatise," another installation that I made regarding Jewish history, was. To see information about that, check it out here.  But before you leave this page, here is the symbolism for "Diaspora:"

Why Books—
The books used within the trunk are  by the author Sholom Aleichem and printed in Yiddish. Sholom Aleichem was a prominent author who wrote the stories that inspired “Fiddler on the Roof.” “Fiddler” depicts just what many of these people endured to stimulate them to come to this country. Many (not all) Jewish immigrants from eastern Europe spoke, read, and wrote in Yiddish. The use of books also speaks to the importance of education in the Jewish tradition. 

"Diaspora," (Detail)

Why Aspen Trees—
Aspen trees were painted on the spines of the books. Aspens are connected by their root systems, just as we are all connected. Tree symbolism is important in Judaism as well. The Tree of Life is symbolic of the Torah (Jewish written law). 

"Diaspora" (Detail) Both of my grandfathers are shown here. 

Why Photographs—
The trunk lid bears photographs of immigrants, including my family members, that had the courage to leave all that they knew behind to come to an unknown country. The branches and yellow leaves symbolize hope for a better life, and the connections that we have to one another. There is also a nod to the connections that occur when we move from one place to another as if branching out.  

"Diaspora" (Detail) Photographs of my family, as well as ancestors of friends

Why Trunk and Suitcases—
The trunk and suitcases symbolize the travel to what was hoped would be a better life for themselves and their families upon arriving in the United States. 

I am eternally grateful to my ancestors for having the courage to leave all that they knew behind to make what they hoped would be a better life for their family in this country. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

One-Hour Painting — "Dwelling"

"Dwelling," Pastel,  13 x 11 inches, © Lynn Goldstein
Whenever I have bumped into difficult times, I have almost literally run into the woods. So, walking in the woods, or beside a body of water, inspires my work. Being around the natural world brings me comfort. That said, one of the things that inspired me to be an artist was looking at the art books that my mother had when I was a child. I was riveted by all the different ways people could express themselves visually. My mother studied art in college, and she taught me my first lessons. For some reason, my young mind reasoned that if my mother could make art, then perhaps so could I. 

This painting fell on the heels of helping to downsize my mother’s apartment, which was a stressful, sad experience because her health is declining. Her memory is also going, and her world is shrinking. I was exhausted after a marathon packing session and long drives to and from where my mother lives back to where I live. I didn’t have the energy to think, and was considering taking a nap, but decided that perhaps making art was just what I needed to do. 

I usually start a painting methodically, but this time I decided to just “let her rip,” and have fun with the process. Since I only had one hour, I decided to use pastel. I work in pastel and mixed media, and find that pastel is faster for me. I was called to make a painting of trees that I see when I walk in the woods near my home. What really fascinates me here is the hollow in the trunk of one particular tree. While working, I couldn’t help but think about the whole idea of our dwelling places. How where we live and the objects that we own can come to define us.  And, how the hollow of that tree trunk has likely provided shelter for animals, just as the home that my mother has come to know, and where she must leave, has sheltered her. 

Working on the painting was oddly comforting to me. I became lost in the process, which hasn’t happened in awhile and reminded me why I love making art in the first place. I was able to gain peace from remembering how I feel when I am listening to the birds singing, and the rustling of the wind in the branches of the trees. 

Often when people look at my work they say that they feel peaceful. I hope that the comfort that I gained making this painting, will be transferred to those who see it. 

Started with the darks, and the basic composition.
You can see that the background color is a bright red/orange

I was fascinated with the tree hollow, and wanted
to establish that early in the process.

Started to introduce some lighter shapes to indicate foliage. 

Getting closer to the finished piece.
Wanted to add some bright blue to kick up the excitement in a calm image.