Artist Statement –
Illuminated Letters is a journey of exploration into my Jewish heritage. The goal of this journey has been to translate the written language of our classic texts into visual language. My artistic career has been dedicated to creating works of beauty, celebration, movement and transcendence.
Illuminated Letters uncovers the Jewish sources of my work. By means of a personal course of study, I sought the foundation from which a lifetime of imagery arose.
Inspired by traditional Jewish techniques of uncovering layers of meaning in sacred texts.
Illuminated Letters both describes and enacts an artistic process of translating traditional Jewish texts into images and then bringing those images to text. The project’s imagery derives from Hebrew word-roots (singular shoresh, plural shoreshim) found in classically significant lines of Torah (p’sukim).
Three terms exemplify this process: illuminate, wrestle, connect.
Illuminate—from the Hebrew shoresh O-H-R—brings “light” to the foundational texts (Torah, Talmud, and Jewish history).
Wrestle—from the Hebrew shoresh S-R-H— “struggles” with the ancient texts to find contemporary significance in them. This wrestling took the form of questions. Can a modern Jew explain the essence of Judaism in images? Can words be expressed in images? Can an individual connect from the imagery to text by identifying a three letter shoresh? These questions brought me to a deeper study of Biblical Hebrew and texts with two study partners, Miles Hochstein, poet and Rabbi Laurie Rutenberg, through the ancient process called hevruta.
Connect—from the Hebrew shoresh E-CH-D, “one”—turned ancient information into lived knowledge.
Achieving deeper understanding of the sacred sources provided an avenue to immerse myself (and the viewer) in the journey from imagery to text revealing a set of core values found in the ancient text by which to live “Jewishly” and have a vocabulary to pass it on to the future.
Sara Harwin, Artist/Creator
“Illuminated Letters both describes and enacts an artistic process of translating traditional Jewish texts into images and then bringing those images to text.”
Creator of Illuminated Letters: Threads of Connection