Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Object of Art

Last week we visited Israeli artist, Jo Milgrom. She is the mother of my colleague and friend, Rabbi Shira Milgrom. Her sculpture garden features "recycled" Jewish ceremonial objects. She collects discarded tefillin, Torah covers and other assorted objects and turns them into artwork. She said, "'Turn it over' may also mean 'overturn it,' to escape sameness and stereotype. Better a fiesty, controversial life than dullness and burial." For a number of my colleagues her artwork turned sacred into profane. I, on the other hand, found that it to gave new life to ancient symbols. Sometimes you have to be forced to look at things in new, surprising, different, controversial and perhaps what might even be called sacrilegious ways to appreciate their deeper meaning. Is it unholy to place a Torah mantle in a different context and to hang it from a living tree rather than covering what Jewish tradition terms the "tree of life"--the Torah? This could not be the sculpture garden of a synagogue but it makes you think. Thinking in new categories is one of the objects of art. For more pictures of her artwork click here.

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