Out of the Narrows: The Artists' Haggadah:A Visual Midrash

Out of the Narrows: The Artists' Haggadah:A Visual Midrash

Out of the Narrows: The Artists' Haggadah:A Visual Midrash

Out of the Narrows: The Artists' Haggadah:A Visual Midrash

Paperback(Revision 12/12/2021 ed.)

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Out of the Narrows: The Artists Haggadah was created during the modern plague of our time, Covid-19, which necessitated celebrating a socially distanced Passover. We created a text rich in meaning and beauty, one that would engage visually and thematically and evoke in-depth discussions at next year's Seder. Out of the Narrows is a complete Passover Haggadah with the Passover Seder in Hebrew, transliteration, and English, including all steps of the ceremony, rituals, prayers, liturgy, and commentary. It is also a Fine Arts book with art as commentary, featuring artwork by 11 members of Jewish Artist Collective Chicago (JACC)— a community of multidisciplinary artists connected through common heritage and committed to sharing ideas, enriching practices, and creating dialogue with community.

In the winter of 2019, we heard rumors about a contemporary plague, how a virus emerging from China began moving swiftly westward. Around Purim, it arrived on our shores full force, steamrolling communities, families, jobs, and businesses. Schools closed, shelter-in-place orders were issued, and masks, hand sanitizer, and gloves became precious commodities. And while the virus affected everyone, it tore through communities of color with breathtaking devastation, compounding the issues of social injustice the nation was already struggling with: family separations at the border, racism, police violence in the streets, extremist stirrings, and the doomsday clock of global warming inching ever forward. What a narrow and constricting place the world began to feel like. By the time Passover arrived in mid-April, the virus was in full force, so we commemorated our defining narrative COVID-19-style, and in the manner we are told the Israelites themselves did: each family alone, under the darkness of turmoil and threat. But if the Israelites performed their first acts of liberation and deliverance in darkness, behind doors swabbed with lamb's blood to throw off the Angel of Death, 2020 Jews in America and Europe lived politically and socially liberated lifestyles. Sheltering in place, we were still free to prepare more than the requisite unleavened bread as we sat down to our Seder tables. We could light candles and fill the Seder plate, prepare holiday foods, enact the fifteen steps. True, the pandemic disrupted the celebratory atmosphere: beloved faces in pixilated form popping up on screens could not replace the embraces we craved, the warmth of crowding a table to observe the holiday together. But like generations before us, we enacted the Seder regardless, opening our Haggadot and following instructions to wash and to break, to bless and to praise, to recite and to sing. We dipped twice and made Hillel Sandwiches, counted drops of wine to account for ten terrible plagues, asked questions and responded, and discussed freedom, slavery, and redemption. In effect, we told the story anyway, because that is what Passover demands of us: to tell the story to our children. And because everything about the Passover Seder is connected to a memory, enacting the Seder becomes a memory feast.

The Haggadah text requires us to ask questions. But the year that the world was undone by a virus, we asked even more. What does it mean to celebrate Passover in a pandemic? As artists, our job is to witness, comment, and create. How does art help make sense of the Passover story? How do its elements reflect on the plagues of disease, death, and injustice that still exist? How do we praise God when the world is broken and millions continue to suffer? But what is more diametrically opposed to the celebration of freedom and redemption–the becoming of who we are–than living in lockdown, figurative lamb's blood smearing the doors of the quarantined?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9798765501603
Publisher: Barnes & Noble Press
Publication date: 12/27/2021
Edition description: Revision 12/12/2021 ed.
Pages: 146
Sales rank: 74,894
Product dimensions: 8.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.38(d)

About the Author

Susan Dickman has exhibited widely. She has received Illinois Arts Council awards in writing (1998; 2006; 2010), a Pushcart Prize nomination, and been published in Zocalo Public Square, Jewish Writers, Left Hooks, Brain, Child, Lilith, Intellectual Refuge, and Best of the Best American Poetry. The persistence of narrative, holes in the story, and the natural world inspire her to explore the intersection of image and text. Using encaustic and cold wax medium, oils, photographs, cloth, thread, paper, salt, rust, and found objects, she seeks to cover, reveal, and amplify narrative tension to explore memory, loss, grief, joy, the effects of time, and lost spaces surrounding language. www.susanjoydickman.com

Berit Engen began weaving as a child in Norway and now practices this ancient craft of entwining weft (grey, horizontal threads) with warp (colored, vertical threads) in the centuries-old tradition of expounding on Jewish texts (in Hebrew, drash). She finds inspiration for her work in the richness and diversity of the Jewish experience: from the laws of the Torah to modern poetry, from the chanting of ancient prayers to the satire of Yiddish curses, from the ethical wisdom of the Prophets to the black lace adorning Sephardic women.
She compares her linen-yarn tapestries to Japanese Haiku: formally constrained by a miniature size, imagistic, and focused, yet allusive. Her ongoing project, “Weft and Drash—Weaving a Thousand Jewish Tapestries," begun in 2007, consists to date of about 600 pieces. Exhibiting widely, her work is also in the permanent collection of the Chicago History Museum, the sanctuary of Temple Har Zion in River Forest, IL and has been featured in Lilith magazine. www.beritengen.com

Carol Neiger, artist and graphic designer, creates paintings and prints that explore how our past experiences influence the way we see. Her recent works explore the possibility of inherited memory and place, creating works intended to inspire feelings associated with memories that transport us to places we have not been before but feel that we have. A visit to Portugal inspired her about the tfutza, the Jewish diaspora. Discovering that European Jews have been exiled from 109 locations since the year 250 CE, she began to wonder about how Jews relate to the ideas of place and home given this tumultuous history. Carol has exhibited widely and accepts commissions. www.carolneiger.com
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