In my previous post, I showed one of the pieces that I am exhibiting in the Holocaust remembrance show at the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia between February 13 and April 15, 2013. I am including 3 pieces of art in this show. The paintings that I am showing are very different from the other piece on which I am working. As a result of a friend's suggestion, I am putting together a series of posts showing the progression of the second piece which is entitled "Treatise."
Painting has always been a large part of my life. I gain comfort from it and express myself using paint. People interact with painting passively. With this piece, however, I wanted observers to interact more actively with the objects on display. Therefore, I moved out of my comfort zone and utilized objects in a way that I had never attempted to do in the past. This work is meant to move viewers out of their comfort zone as well. As an avid reader, and well aware that education has been an important tenet in Jewish history, books seemed the obvious “canvas” for me to utilize. Books often hold stories of people’s lives and provide us with connection to others. Also, books are everyday objects that many of us take for granted. Therefore, I chose to use books because they are symbolic not only of education, but also of lives that were forever altered by the Holocaust. They are symbolic of the everyday that was taken away from 6,000,000 people.
The books that I am utilizing are foreign language books. I wanted to use books in Russian, German, Polish, Italian and French. When a friend suggested that she would donate a Yiddish book to the cause, I realized what a great idea that was, so I also have a book in Yiddish as well—a dozen books in all. I received help from several people in getting these books. In fact, the first story is the one expressed by the artwork itself. The second story is the community effort that has taken place in order for the piece to come to fruition.
To start, I painted the covers of the books in preparation for final coats of paint after the interior distressing was completed. I burned the edges of pages of some volumes, ripped interiors of other books and decided that I wanted to shoot a few of the books with a gun. The final insult to the books was the most difficult to pull off. One of my students, a gun enthusiast and a good shot, offered to shoot the books for me. He has a German Glock, so the holes would be authentic. He met me before work last Wednesday morning in the parking lot of my studio. Imagine my surprise when he opened the door to his truck wearing a surgical mask! I felt as if I was going to the firing range with an antiseptic Freddie Kruger! In fact, I was being protected from a flu bug that had threatened to waylay our mission. The firing range personnel were kind enough to open their doors early for our project. No one was present with us in the firing area, and it was eerily quiet when the gun was not being discharged. The holes appeared almost like drill holes where the bullet entered, but the books were shattered where the bullet exited. That's it for now... more progress to come....