Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Wisdom Personified

November 24, 2015 by Susan Weinberg

Our session began with a task. Meryll asked us to try our hand at personifying wisdom either in words or image. I sat there stumped. My process is to circle around assignments until I find a way in. By the time I've found my entry, our time is usually up. Instead I decided to come at the assignment from a different direction. I began to describe my late mother, my model of wisdom, recounting the qualities that caused me to define her in this manner.

When we regrouped Meryll asked if our personification of wisdom had a gender. Many had in fact identified Wisdom as female, a natural lead-in to the Tanach which introduces us to Lady Wisdom in Proverbs 8 . We took a minute to read the passage and were asked to examine three aspects. What are the qualities of wisdom? Is there any theological issue that arises? Why a woman?

Wisdom is no shrinking violet. She stands at the gate of the city and shouts. She advocates for knowledge, uprightness, truth and offers words of fairness and clarity. Prudence is a companion to wisdom along with foresight. Resourcefulness, understanding and courage are counted among her attributes.

So why a woman? Hochma/Wisdom is in fact a feminine word in Hebrew. We noted verse 23 that talks of her in conjunction with the origin of the world, conjuring the idea of birth, echoed also in the word "fruit" in verse 19. Verse 30 intrigued us. Here Wisdom talks of her relationship with God. The word "Ahmon" can be translated in several ways, confidant, architect or a nurse who cares for a baby. Women were viewed as being on the border of civilization, on the edge, yet still within. Both exalted and vilified. One need only look to Proverb 7 and the Woman of Folly that it portrays, a bit of a hussy. Her counterpoint is presented as the Woman of Valour in Proverb 31.

We observed that many of the verses in Proverb 8 speak of wealth, perhaps metaphorically, but certainly this is not a wisdom that demands asceticism. Wisdom claims superiority over gold, silver and rubies and yet in verse 21 she speaks of filling the treasuries of those who love her. Her audience appreciated material goods which made this a meaningful metaphor. Wisdom knew her audience.

The origin of wisdom is ancient, the first of God's works of old (Proverbs 8:22). In Proverbs Wisdom claims existence prior to the earth, the heavens and the sea. Back to Genesis 1 where no mention is found. Yet another creation story has been introduced.


We sought insight by considering when this passage was written. Meryll reported that it dates back to the period after the destruction of the first Temple. This was a time of upheaval when structure collapsed along with the monarchy. Previously the priests and the Temple were the locus of sanctity, now that shifted to the family and the role of women took on more importance. It was not a coincidence that Wisdom was found at the crossroads and the gate to the city, for Wisdom is sought during times of change. Joel introduced a poem I Walked a Mile With Pleasure which considers how much more is learned from Sorrow than Pleasure. Wisdom comes out of transition and discomfort.

Having described Wisdom in words, we turned our attention to the visual

Sidduri Sabitu-Epic

imagery used to connote Wisdom. The Greeks had Athena, often associated with an owl. Mesopotamians had Sidduri Sabitu-Epic of Gilgamesh and the Egyptians had Maat whose form is reflected in the hieroglyphic for wisdom.

With that we shifted to our own visuals on wisdom. Lynda and Jay had asked us to bring magazines as source material and they now introduced us to a Visual Brainstorming exercise. We were offered a square template with which to frame images that we associated with wisdom. We then cut them out and pasted them into a square or oblong form composed of the squares we had selected. This was a very intuitive exercise and often quite visually pleasing. Some of us gravitated to certain colors, faces or line. I was surprised when one of my lab partners observed a theme of "holding" in my images, hands clasped around objects. Sometimes we are too close to our own creations to recognize the obvious.










And a postscript from Meryll on our discussion...

If you’re intrigued by the image of Lady Wisdom, there are two contemporary Biblical scholars who wrestle with the imagery.

• "Women and the Discourse of Patriarchal Wisdom: A Study of Proverbs 1-9"

Carol A. Newsom in Gender and Difference in Ancient Israel. Ed Peggy L. Day

• Women and the Feminine in the Book of Proverbs

Claudia V. Camp

I also recommend looking at Lady Wisdom’s antithesis—Dame Folly—who appears in Proverbs chapter 7. You’ll notice the contrasting images such as Lady Wisdom appearing in public at the gate of the City, at the crossroads versus Dame Folly who emerges in the dusk of the evening and lurks at corners. Newsom labels the two portraits a diptych.

Proverbs is traditionally attributed to King Solomon. He is said to have written Song of Songs in his youth, Proverbs in his middle years, and Koheleth(Ecclesiastes) in his later years. This tradition aligns with some of the comments made during the Lab about wisdom’s dynamic property.

If you scan a few chapters of Proverbs beginning with chapter 10, you’ll see the practical wisdom expressed in aphorisms that characterizes most of the book. Similar wisdom literature with practical advice existed in ancient Egypt (The Teaching of Amenemope, The Instruction of King Meri-ka-re) and in Babylonia (Counsels of Wisdom).




Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Where Wisdom Begins

We began our session singing a round of "Let's Start at the Very Beginning" and indeed that is where we began.

Where does wisdom begin? we were asked.  In the Jewish Bible there is no word for "religious".  Instead we speak of "Yira haShem", fear/awe of Adonai.  There is not a good translation of "yira" thus the slash between fear and awe, a subject for much discussion.  Psalm 111:10 speaks of "yira" as the beginning of wisdom and the foundation for understanding.  Mishle 1:7 speaks of "yira of Adonai" as the beginning of knowledge and further references those who scorn wisdom and discipline as fools.

The phrase first appears in the story of Abraham in Genesis 20:11 when he notes that there is no fear of God here and thus fears for his life. It also arises in Exodus 1:17 when the midwives fail to kill the male Hebrew newborns as ordered. In this context there is an awareness that certain behaviors are unconditionally wrong.

What does fear/awe mean? Some suggested humility.  The wise person appreciates the fact that he doesn't know all.  We are only wise if we start from that premise.  Wisdom is about a relationship, something outside of ourselves.  The self-centered person lacks wisdom.  The wise person learns from others.

Fear is a heightened state of awareness, it opens us up.  It is a beautiful fear, not the fear we so often speak of, but something different.

Some focused on word construction - awe and awful, an interesting juxtaposition. Is too much awe frightening? Perhaps more than we can comprehend? It was suggested that fear and awe have a yin/yang relationship.  When we learn something we realize how much more there is beyond this small portion that we now grasp.  Perhaps it is fear of the enormity.

Awe as a state of wonder was proffered.  Knowledge is fostered by curiosity, wisdom is fostered by awe.  When we fear we want to run from something, when we feel awe, we want to approach. As we concluded this discussion it was suggested that reverence is perhaps a better word to embrace both awe and fear.

With the ground set, we turned to others who have contemplated this question. (see handout-Beginning of Wisdom)

Abraham Joshua Heschel who wrote God in Search of Man notes that "the meaning of awe is to realize that life takes place under wide horizons, horizons that range beyond the span of an individual life or even the life of a nation, a generation, or an era.  Awe enables us to perceive in the world intimations of the divine, to sense in small things the beginning of infinite significance, to sense the ultimate in the common and the simple; to feel in the rush of the passing the stillness of the eternal."

The Pirki Avot 3:17 links wisdom and yira, neither can exist in the absence of the other and the Midrash Shmuel tells us that we have to use our wisdom for it to matter.  Torah learning does not necessarily accompany wisdom.

One of the most interesting passages came from Menachem Meiri from the 13th century.  While he speaks in support of the need for the commandments of the Torah, he also notes a natural inclination as necessary to perfect ethical behavior.  Then he offers a sentence which seemed particularly modern - "For the commandments put a man in the right path only in a general way, they are unable to provide for subtle and new problems which constantly require the guidance of morality and ethics."  It struck me as appropriate guidance for a judge.

We then turned our attention to Psalm 111 and Psalm 112.  The first is public praise regarding God.  The second addresses the experience of the man who has yire hashem.  Within Psalm 111 we highlighted the phrase- The works of the Lord are great, within reach of all who desire them.  This phrase speaks to connection.  It is offered and can be accepted if desired.

Our discussion then wandered into the growth of wisdom and how it can deepen with age, older and wiser we say and can only hope we gain the latter.  Awe and fear grow as we face the enormity of the unknown. It was noted that death forces a focus, the "exquisitely beautiful frustration of being human" (Paula Pergament).  The metaphor of the ocean was suggested, creating awe and also fear as we realize its power, both good and bad, as we stand at its edge.

We moved to our first participant-led section as Tuvia took us into the question of how wisdom relates to the arts.  As an example of wisdom he told us the story of the noted Israeli poet Rachel Bluwstein and read her poem Meeting.  Next to her grave is a metal box containing her poems that visitors can read.  Tuvia shared a number of texts and images ranging from a Hassidic tale to the poem Desiderata.  He noted that just because an artist may be accomplished in their particular discipline, doesn't make them a wise person, offering the example of Amiri Baraka, a poet laureate who made the outlandish claim that Israel knew about the World Trade Center bombing in advance.  He left us with a question to consider - how we as artists can contribute to the wisdom and beauty in the world.

In our first meeting we had each brought something that we associated with wisdom and with our much enlarged group we still had several introductions to go.  Jon shared a work by Simen Johan, a photographer whose work  is a synthesis of sorts, not necessarily what it appears to be at first glance.  Sandra recounted her journey from Mexico City to Florence to Minneapolis and shared an ornate mirror from her grandmother who left Russia.  She noted that she sought her grandmother's presence when she looked into the mirror.  A connection with ancestors seems to be an important theme in our search for wisdom.

David brought a Siddur and shared the first bracha which is a prayer for knowledge and intelligence, noting that was a basis for all subsequent prayer.

Aimee noted several connections to wisdom from an early recollection of observing a tree and sensing that its pattern could help to decode the universe.  She also shared a photo of her daughter as an infant with Aimee's father near death, an inter-generational microcosm.

Rani tied it all together with a nautilus shell which reflects the Fibonacci Sequence which is found throughout nature.  In the nautilus, the organism outgrows its chamber and walls it off and moves on, each step connected with what came before.  Trees branch in a similar fashion.

I found myself thinking back to the quote from Heschel which talks of sensing in small things the beginning of infinite significance as well as one from  Yosef ben Yehuda ibn Aknin from the 12th century.  He writes "I have come to understand the wisdom that went into the forming of the limbs of my body and the power of my soul. Now then, if one can perceive the nature of God from a microcosm, how much more from a knowledge of all things created, the heavens and the earth and what is between them."

photo credit: Illuminated Nautilus via photopin (license)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

In Search of Hakhma

by Susan Weinberg 10/27/2015

"Echoes: Voices of Wisdom" is our theme this year, one that we haven't yet absorbed in its entirety, still struggling to recall it. We often resort to our short-hand version of "wisdom", yet "echoes" and "voices" frame it up and hint at where we find it.

In our last session we referenced the Pirkei Avot, Ethics of the Fathers, which states, Who is wise? The one who learns from every person…(Talmud - Avot 4:1)

With that in mind we turned to text and the voices that use the term "wisdom", looking for context to determine its meaning. The Hebrew word for Wisdom is "Hakhma" (pronounced Hokma). I learned that quite recently during the retreat as I examined the stained glass windows in the former synagogue where we attended a concert. The creator of the "wisdom" window used the Torah to represent wisdom with the word below it. We too turned to Torah seeking the meaning of wisdom.

Meryll informed us that the wisdom books of the Tanach are the books of Job, Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) and Proverbs. I did a search for the word "wisdom" in the Hebrew Bible and found that these three books do indeed account for 50% of it.

We began our exploration identifying synonyms for wisdom. Some of us offered words, others sentences and concepts. Among them was the concept as discussed in the Indian culture of the ability to think and act where common sense prevails and choices are beneficial and productive. Another approach was in terms of a hierarchy of information with data at the bottom, then knowledge which is applied data, then wisdom which is the application of knowledge to achieve a desired result. These were very results oriented forms of wisdom, focused on action.

A more text focused definition was offered from the first bracha of the Amidah which says "You graciously bestow knowledge upon man and teach mortals understanding. Graciously bestow upon us from You, wisdom, understanding and knowledge. Blessed are You Lord, who graciously bestows knowledge."

And then we offered a flood of words: truth, insight, perception, openness, knowledge, understanding, questioning, justice, judgment, integrative and action or doing.

With that grounding we began to examine passages from the Tanakh and Rabbinic literature. The first mention of wisdom in the Tanakh is in Genesis 41:33 where Pharaoh seeks a man of discernment and "hakhma", ultimately finding Joseph to make sense of his dreams and act as a problem solver and manager.

The next time hakhma is mentioned is in Exodus 31:1-6 where God speaks to Moses about a craftsman who he has endowed with a divine spirit of hakhma, ability and knowledge. We noted that wisdom was distinct from ability and knowledge as those qualities were noted separately and secondly that God was the giver of hakhma. Wisdom is associated with craftsmanship of precious metals, quite a change from the prior role of the Israelites as hard laborers, "shlepping" stone to build pyramids. In this post-slavery world the first people endowed with hakhma are artists. The same passage goes on to speak of hakmat lev, a wise heart, but in this context they are granted hakhma in order to follow commands, not an association we are prone to in today's world. As artists we may want to think in terms of hahkmat-yad, wisdom of the hands.

What do our sages say about wisdom? Rashi notes that hakhma is what a person learns from others. Associated words are T'vunah which is a wider understanding gained through intelligent application of what one learned, also known as ability. Finally there is Da'at, knowledge.

We were then asked to examine a passage in I Kings 2:9 where King David speaks to his son Solomon shortly before David's death. He is briefing him on who he needs to watch out for and to use his wisdom on how to deal with an objectionable person even as he urges him to deal with him rather aggressively. Finally we turned to the Haggadah's wise child who is referred to as wise due to his challenging and questioning tone.
The second half of our session was devoted to mind mapping applied to wisdom. With colored pencils and markers at our side we began free associating, capturing words associated with wisdom in a variety of formats. Many reflected the fluid and evolving nature of wisdom, egg shaped ovals, leaves and water. In our small group we determined that wisdom is relational and must be shared and touch others. We absorb it and also find it through carving, cutting away what is non-essential to shape it much as a sculptor. It is not just judgment, but must be tempered with feeling, kindness and giving in order to find our heart of wisdom.

Monday, October 26, 2015


Over sixty artists from five cities gathered in Milwaukee for the third Artists' Lab retreat.  Music was central to this retreat with Joey Weisenberg leading the way, charming us with a joyful smile into participating in nigguns, drawing us closer until we clustered around him and song filled the room. Di, di, di, di we sang, our voices moving up and down with the melody.  While the niggun, a wordless melody, is rooted in Hassidic tradition, Joey brings it to different arms of Judaism.  Music proved to be the armature on which this retreat was built with our Shabbat services as well as other events enriched by Joey's melodic voice and welcoming manner.

So what else was this retreat?  Certainly an expansion of our community.  We had many opportunities to interact with our fellow artists, welcoming familiar faces and quickly forming connections with new ones.  We started out by gathering close to the familiar people from our own lab, but we quickly broke out of our comfort zone in a session with Helene Fischman. Fischman did a series of exercises that married image and text as well as collaboration within our artist lab community.  She moved us from words to image as we  developed a visual response to each other's words.  Finally we were asked to write of a moment when we felt pleasure in our creativity.  We shared our narrative with another participant who was called upon to draw what we described.  As I began to build a relationship with a new member from Kansas City I could feel the walls between our individual labs crumbling.

Our retreat was also an opportunity to interact with the city.  We walked through the city to our lunch and then along the water to the Milwaukee Art Museum, located next to the water and very appropriately resembling a ship.  When it is open the wings lift on either side.    You need to wait for specific times to witness this unless you are Mick Jagger, who we were told got a special performance of the wings. While most of the museum was closed for renovation and the addition of a new wing, we were able to explore the Larry Sultan photography exhibition and have a behind the scene's tour of the work in progress.

It had a rather otherworldly feel to see artwork shrouded in wrappings, just hinting at what lay beneath, quite Christo-like with everything becoming a new kind of artwork seen through fresh eyes.While most of the artwork has to be protected from the light, the sculpture gallery is visually extended by the magnificent expanse of water just outside its windows.

After our tour of the museum we gathered for Havdalah, led again by Joey as Robyn held the havdalah candle aloft. As Joey invited us to gather close he told the story of a miracle in the temple where even though everyone was so close, when they bowed down they didn't bump into each other.

We concluded our day with yet more music, music of the Yiddish Theater.  The performance was in the Zelaso Center which was once the synagogue for Emanu-El and still had the bones of its legacy with stained glass windows illustrating Jewish themes with a bit of an American twist.  Freedom was illustrated by a bell.  Wisdom, our theme for this year was of course illustrated by the Torah.  As it was night, we had to look closely for the imagery.
Miryem-Khaye Siegel

The performance space was the perfect size, small enough to actually feel the music.  It was an extraordinary event with three female vocalists who were each musically talented and had an excellent comedic sense which lent itself to many of the Yiddish songs.  David Jordan Harris was kwelling a bit as the talented Miryem-Khaye Seigel had been his student.

Joanne Borts

We ended the day late at night and groaned a bit at the early start time for the following day.  In an interesting juxtaposition we were taken to the new Emanu-El B'ne Jeshurun campus, the same synagogue that was once housed where we heard the evening Klezmer performance.  Our groans were quickly forgotten when we entered the space.

Breathtaking and spiritual best describe it.  The first thing you notice is that there are no stained glass windows.  Instead large vertical windows slice the walls surrounded by images created by Tobi Kahn.  Through the windows trees draw your gaze upward.  The overall effect is rather Zen-like.

It was actually a wonderful illustration of what can be accomplished when you incorporate the arts and represented the work of a number of those in the Milwaukee lab.  Philip Katz of the Milwaukee lab designed the sanctuary and shared some of the elements with us.  He actually grew up down the street from the old synagogue and his study of synagogue design led into his work with this project. He described the space as a blend of opposites, solid and void.

Nina Edelman did the richly colored Torah covers and the cover for the ark.  Barbara Kohl-Spiro played an important role in making it happen.

The landscaping was also an important part of the facility as it functions in lieu of stained glass.  

At the entrance to the building lies a sculpture by Richard Edelman.  It is a shofar shaped of cubes.  Before we left the facility we listened to Tekiah Gedolah blown on a traditional shofar magnified by the large sculpture. 

Our sessions concluded at the JCC where we did some small group discussions, had an opportunity to see the lab show of the Milwaukee artists and to share our work with each other.  Overall we gave the retreat an emphatic thumbs up and would encourage others to attend the next retreat.  The takeaway was certainly a sense of greater connection with the entire lab of artists and a newfound appreciation for the city of Milwaukee.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Heart of Wisdom

 October 13, 2015  by Susan Weinberg

We joined together today in a new beginning in the Artists' Lab. For some of us it is the fourth year  of a growing community of artists.  We fondly greeted familiar faces and were introduced to new ones.  We had a much larger group as we brought the two labs together and added new members.

We gathered with our facilitators in an introduction to our topic of Echoes: Voices of Wisdom, a rich topic with much to explore.  Meryll began our exploration by introducing the Pirkei Avot, Ethics of the Fathers, a section of the Midrash written around the Common Era.

 It states Who is wise? The one who learns from every person…(Talmud - Avot 4:1)   She noted that the word for teacher and student comes from the same root, for hopefully we are both.

Rabbi Davis then introduced a parable from a book titled The Hasidic Parable by Aryeh Wineman.  The parable entitled Or HaEmet  tells the tale of a king who created a challenge with incentives to test the diligence of his servants.  Three groups of servants attempt three strategies with only the final one achieving the goal. Take a minute to read it before you proceed.

We had an energetic discussion about the need to seek wisdom by coming in unencumbered by emotional or physical coverings, without artificial light and in concert with other souls.  It was noted that the parable rewarded those who exhibited both planning and forethought as well as being willing to respond to circumstances creatively and in the moment.   Others noted traits of resourcefulness and faith.  We also assumed that the later servants learned from the failures of the earlier servants.  As this was a metaphor we looked to the meaning of different elements.  We concluded that illumination through precious stones represented seeking deeper knowledge.  Illumination was only found by being willing to destroy what we know.

Many were uncomfortable with the role of the king, particularly the element of judgment and condemnation of failure.  When asked how we would apply this to our experience in the lab we spoke of the need to be vulnerable, but also to create an environment of trust, rather than competition.  We felt it important to be able to risk failure in a nonjudgmental environment.  The king had no place at our table.

Some spoke of their experience as a parent or as an immigrant to a new country as a time when they had to be vulnerable to achieve a greater level of wisdom.

The second part of our session was both an introduction of members and a sharing of something we associated with creativity. We hadn't much time to consider this question and several of us confessed to groaning at the receipt of this last minute assignment.   It proved; however, to be a very intriguing project with thoughtful responses from all.  Lab members offered up music, poetry, readings, Jewish parables and quotes.

Some of the offerings included the poems Remember Me by Hal Sirowitz and Otherwise by Jane Kenyon and the wonderful quote "Seek the company of those who search for truth; run from those who have found it." (AndrĂ© Gide).  In the realm of great minds think alike we had more than one person who brought their Tibetan singing bowl or a seashell.  The Tibetan bowls "spoke" for themselves.  The seashells were symbolic of wisdom with the hardness on the outside that represented the accumulation of experience with the inside luminous and if fortunate containing a pearl.

Some of us offered linkages to the past, a cookbook offered as a tender gift from a father and for me, a folder of notes on books read from my mother.  While some in our group sought ideas from the Internet, for me wisdom has always been associated with my mother who recently passed away. In her files I found a wonderful folder of excerpts from books that spoke to her and reminded me of our many conversations about books and life.  When Meryll had spoken of the Pirkei Avot, I had flipped through my mother's file sure I had read of it in there.  Sure enough she had a page devoted to it.  I shared some of the quotes in her folder such as "Don't try to make life a mathematics problem with yourself in the center and everything coming out equal" or "we are our injuries, as much as we are our successes." (The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver).  Or the rather biblical sounding quote from Nicole Mones in Lost in Translation, "A brave man bows to circumstances as grass does before the wind". She also wrote of a book by Jerome Groopman titled The Measure of Our Days: A Spiritual Exploration of Illness.  Within it he had referenced the Biblical Psalm 90, a psalm of life and death which presents a perspective on wisdom.

The stream of human life is like a dream,
In the morning, it is as grass, sprouting fresh,
In the morning it blossoms and flourishes,
but by evening it is cut down and withers
Our years come to an end like a fleeting whisper.
The days of our years may total seventy,
if we are exceptionally strong, perhaps eighty;
but all their pride and glory is toil and falsehood
and, severed quickly, we fly away...
So teach us to number our days that
we may attain a heart of wisdom.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Flowing In, Flowing Out

Joint Lab -August 27, 2015 by Susan Weinberg
Last night was closing day for the third Artists' Lab exhibition. We gathered in the gallery and each of us shared with our fellow artists the process behind our work.
I always feel like an apology is necessary when I attempt a recap as I can't capture all of the artists' work in the space of a blog post, particularly as the number of artists grows. I shall leave it to the catalog to do that. With apologies to those I missed, here is but a sampling to reflect the efforts of the year 3 lab artists.

Outside of the gallery we were greeted with three images. Ann Ginsburgh Hofkin shared her photograph of a wave on aluminum. Frozen in the moment, it evokes that moment when the Red Sea parted for the Israelites.
Next to it Jonathan Gross presented us with a highly detailed panoramic image of the river. It was so rich with story that I found myself imagining using it in a classroom as the impetus for students to construct narratives. On the far left he captured a group of kayakers, a serendipitous event that his process allowed him to replace within the panorama. On his right you can see a the painting by Sandra Felemovicius that seeks to capture reflections within the water.
That was our warm-up. Now we entered the gallery. One of the things that I especially liked about this show were the interactions between artwork. Often it seemed to me that they were having conversations. Let's listen in...
Joel Carter's rock sculpture seemed to be working the room, creating interesting vantage points in relation to other works. Joel realized that his well polished river rocks that he uses in his carefully balanced sculptures come from... water! Below (left) you can see his work chatting up Rani Halpern's layered, dyed and cut image that is based on a midrash of God dividing the waters into sky and ocean. When those below protested their perceived lower status, God took his finger and tore the waters apart. The warm colors of the rocks also frame Susan Armington's Waters of Babylon (right). the land of exile for the Jews and the modern day Iraq.

Near Susan's work you can see Sylvia Horwitz's amazingly Biblical photograph of a tumultuous sky over still waters, the firmament in-between.
Alison Morse's words trace the form of an Italian river on the floor below even as they tell the tale of an Italian Jew. But it does more than that, it guides us in and out of the gallery, directing us along the river to the artwork that surrounds it.
Susan Weinberg's diptych on water and memory conversed with Bonnie Heller's reminder of the two worlds between which we can choose. Several people jotted memories that they had shared with those who lost memory for the memory jar that sits before the paintings.

The shape and concept of the tear or raindrop was echoed in both Leah Golberstein's sculpture of stones and salt, Liba Zweigbaum Herman's water ketubah and Rani Halpern's chain of rain drops. Leah's work is based on a midrash about how God offered Adam and Eve the "tear" as a release and solace upon their exit from Eden. Liba invites each of us to pledge our commitment to managing our water resources, all framed in the form of a ketubah, a contract with our guest of honor- water.

Many of the artists talked of how the lab had encouraged them to try new mediums or approaches. Rani spoke of how the layered approaches in her work were new to her since the lab. Notice above how the shadows on the wall in her work add yet another layer to her multi-layered work. Sylvia referenced her more typical work of documentary photos versus the work she has produced in the lab. There have also been some collaborations. Sylvia Horwitz and Susan Armington collaborated on a show this year while Louise Ribnick and Diane Pecoraro collaborated on their lab exhibit - artwork and a prose poem around the theme of seltzer (below).

The approaches were unique and varied and most certainly creative. Jodi Rosen (above right) laminated text and placed it in water, then stirred it as she photographed it.
Judy Snitzer (left) combined paint, collage, wood and text describing our relationship to water from Eden forward. And like several of us she built upwards. The more artists we have the less horizontal space is available and so we build our skyscrapers of art.
And as I can't capture everyone's work, here are some quick views of the gallery before we sadly dismantled it.
Finally that bittersweet moment when we removed our work from the gallery arrived.