Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pomegranates ... Us & Them, Puns, & Fear

There are a few themes with the pomegranates. I don't know how coherently I will be able to write about them because I am only beginning to explore them now with these pieces.

#1: The pun of pomegranate and grenade. It turns a beautiful, even happy image into something much darker. פיגוע הרימון = pomegranate explosion/attack or grenade explosion/attack. Pomegranate #3 has that text, but it showed up in other prints I did with pomegranates that were unfinished.

#2: I started working on these pieces after the most recent war in Israel broke out, and during that time there were also many anti-semitic attacks around the world, including 4 (at least four?) attacks on synagogues in my area - one was only a few blocks from me. Graffiti with swastikas, molotov cocktails, etc. At anti-Israel rallies there were signs that said "Kill all the Jews." This is terrifying to me. Pomegranate #2 has the text that says "we are not afraid," which is a copy of the text from a sign in Sderot that my friend photographed when she went there to volunteer a couple of weeks ago. Making this was kind of therapeutic for me, having to say that We are NOT afraid not only is a way of changing my own thinking and therefore feelings, but saying "we" instead of "I" makes me part of a group. I am not alone. We are all feeling this right now.

#3: Us & Them ... the images, without knowing Hebrew or understanding the pun of the pomegranates, make no sense. They look happy or pretty or I don't know. When I explained the meaning behind the things I had made in the critique, I think people were shocked. The teachers - I think - maybe felt betrayed by my images, because they couldn't figure out what I was making until I explained it. They gave me suggestions for ways to communicate my ideas to a wider audience, but part of the way I made it (bright colors, bubble letters, etc) was to emphasize the us and them. They won't get it. They don't know what it's like to be a Jew (or a Jew like me, if you are offended by my generalization). I think they were shocked just as much at the imagery meaning something darker as they were to hear about the synagogue attacks in our city.

I think I will continue to work on this, even though there is a somewhat calming down in Israel right now.

This was like me practicing my own art therapy. For some reason, the change in scale really brought out personal artwork. I find a lot of times my work is removed from me, has nothing to do with anything I feel and do, is something funny or amusing or about some technique that I find interesting. But having to do something so large which requires so much work, I felt that I could only possibly sustain attention for something that big would be to tap into something I really care about.

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