The pomegranate, that lovely fruit filled with oh so many seeds as it is filled with meaning, is a fall fruit. For many Jews, especially Sephardic and Middle Eastern Jews, it’s associated with the New Year. A pomegranate was missing from my Rosh Hashanah table earlier this week as they seem to be reaching the markets later each year.
I’ve enjoyed playing with the images of pomegranates, often coupled with the equally meaningful hamsa. If you’ve been reading these meanderings, you’ve seen that I’ve represented my love of the “hand of Fatima” and pomegranates with New Orleans beads, pearl buttons, and other media. They have also been immortalized in jewelry with the childhood medium, shrinky dinks.
Here’s two more examples of my obsession with the 2 images in my inimitable wordy way:
Many years ago, a local arts organization had grant funding to offer art classes for cancer survivors. I joined the stalwart regulars in the classes when in between jobs. We made jewelry, created weavings on frames, crafted handmade paper, learned how to work with oil paints, and built glass mosaics among other activities. Morgan Lorenzo, an extremely talented and adventurous local instructor/artist, introduced us to her métier, mosaics. The first go round with her instructions was a meditation box. I love mine complete with seashells and other items.
In another session, she taught us how to cut colored glass pieces which we affixed to clear sheets of glass – glass on glass mosaics. My pomegranate/hamsa obsession emerged. The first work paired the 2 images in an exercise using small and big pieces of glass together. The second was inspired by a set of dishes at the Williams-Sonoma store. The group so enjoyed this craft that we asked to repeat the session.
My next round of images deviated. Like many college students in the late 60s, early 70s I found myself in and out of school, changing majors. I started as a dance major, my goal in life was to be a ballet teacher. Several majors later, I ended up with an interdisciplinary African studies/textile crafts degree. I had always been crafty and with this I added weaving to my repertoire. Some years later, a now long-lost friend from grad school days sent me this postcard of a Jacob Lawrence painting – Occupational Therapy No. 2. The lady at the loom, another exercise in using large and small pieces in the mosaic, was the inspiration for this mosaic.
Finally, the drive to my job at Florida International University took me past one of the many canals that cut through our landscape. The waterway, originally cut to drain our neighboring wetlands, is lined with a proliferation of greenery and color (and tacky houses). All I saw on the daily commute were the palms and orange blooming royal poinsianas. This scene etched in my brain was the inspiration for my last glass mosaic.
Morgan also taught us silk painting. I missed one session when scarfs were made – who knows what job I had that kept me otherwise occupied. I rejoined when she wanted us (and her, too) to make hand-painted kimonos. We actually embroidered obis (belts for the kimono) and learned kumihimo braiding. The kimono plan was unfortunately beyond the program’s budget. Plan B: sarongs, good for the local pool or beach.
The well-intentioned project was almost a guaranteed disaster. We were allocated a big room that did have have enough space for the four of us to stretch the fabric horizontally. We also had no frames in which to keep the fabric taut. Plan B: tape the silk to the wall. This meant that the paint would drip.
What could I paint that could possibly work in these conditions? I remembered the amazing artwork of a local friend and fellow Brownie mother, Debbie Carfagno. When our daughters were kids, one of the images she played with was koi. My sarong was a dripping undersea image of koi among the corals.
Last month, our local library offered a 4-session silk painting class. My schedule allowed me to attend only 2 of the sessions. This project was less ambitious and better planned than the sarongs. We used large embroidery hoops to stretch our long silk scarfs, yhen traced patterns onto the silk to be painted. The assignment was to create an image honoring Monet, but I had already thought of my favorites – pomegranate and hamsa for the New Year.
It was such an enjoyable class and the result was a wearable piece of art which reminds me of one of the symbols of Rosh Hashanah.
Love the artwork! Thank you for sharing. My favorites are your interpretation of the Jacob Lawrence painting and the scarf. But all the pieces were interesting and nice. I enjoyed finding out what inspired each piece, where you got the idea for the artwork.