Ours is the struggle to become free of the challenges of present and past. Sometimes we succeed…
This work explores the process of freedoms unfolding. I understand freedom as the process and struggle for liberation from the challenges of the present and past. The challenges that have plagued the human condition have placed humanity in servitude to public and private pharaohs. As individuals, we are continually tethered by our own fears and inhibitions, predispositions and prejudices of mind, and incarcerated by physical, social, and political dynamics that prevent us from expressing our true inner self, from reaching our spiritual potential, or liberating our very own human productive capacities. I believe history reveals that the obstacles to inner freedom and expression are so prevalent that freedom is more realized at the level of process, imagination, and exploration and its discovery is elusive, fleeting, and transcendent.
This work symbolically shows through the uniquely expressive ability of human hands humanities struggle for liberation among various groups and individuals throughout history. Hands are a uniquely expressive part of the human body. One can communicate using an entire language through the hands. The angled gestures of hands can communicate love or hate, giving or receiving, fight or flight. One who shows clenched fists is expressing something perhaps far more enraged then a gentle reaching outstretched palm with inviting fingers pointing inward.
These hands take various shapes, expressions, emotions, intensities, and urgencies, with differing levels of desperation, determination, failure or triumph. The hands at the top stretch with palms up for the receiving of the last leg of the struggle. And they symbolize a hopeful, optimistic, and resolute transition towards freedom, as liberation is finally within reach and a new latitude of the evolving human experience lingers in the blue sky.
St. Louis, Missouri
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, מַתִּיר אֲסוּרִים.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who releases the captives.
“If a man chooses to enter into marriage with a woman, but she finds herself displeasing to him because he has found something objectionable about her, he must draw up divorce papers, hand them to her, and then send her out of his house.”
The most agonizing moral challenge confronting Jewish law is the plight of the Agunah, “the chained wife,” which has troubled Jews through the centuries. An Agunah is a married woman who is not living with her husband, but has not been released from the bonds of matrimony. Under Orthodox Jewish law, since she has not been given a Jewish divorce (Get) by her husband, she cannot remarry or have “legitimate” children. Most contemporary Agunot are victims of husbands who withhold the Get in violation of rabbinical courts’ orders in order to gain leverage in custody or financial arrangements, or simply out of malice.
At the end of my painful, 20 year marriage, my husband withheld my own Get to obtain a strategic advantage in our divorce negotiations, keeping me in halachic and emotional limbo. I chose this picture of the writing of my Get on the day I was freed from the Agunah’s chains as the paramount illustration of my experience of being released from the bondage of an emotionally abusive and controlling marriage.
New York, New York
This series of photographs were taken on January 13, 2013, the day my mother died, after a long battle with Ovarian Cancer. She had lived a spiritual fulfilling life as a Rebbetzin (Rabbi’s wife) serving her community.
The Tanya, a Kabbalistic text, speaks about the tension between the body and the soul: The soul yearns for transcendence, yearns to tear free of the entanglements of material life and achieve a self-nullifying reunion with our Creator and Source. At the same time, however, the soul is also driven by a will to be, a will to live a physical life and make our mark upon a physical world.
Upon death, this tension is finally resolved, and the soul tears free to fuse with the Divine. In Judaism, as in many cultures, there is a tradition to open a window after the death, to allow the soul to ascend.
Goodbye Mom I love you
Orange, her favorite color
(I asked her for a sign) ascent
New York, New York
My digital print Avadim Hayinu is based on the eponymous text that I scanned from a Haggadah. To move from slavery into freedom is reverberant in Jewish life and thought. Jews have often been at the forefront of struggles for social justice, yet that struggle is tied to a life examined: what does it mean if I am free and safe when others are not? I think with horror of people living in repressive, dangerous, and cruel situations: women in societies where rape and sexual assault against them are common; North Korean concentration camp inmates held in life-long and life-threatening detention, completely isolated from the outside world; Palestinians who feel such unfairness; Canadian First Nations peoples damaged and still suffering from past past government and church dehumanizing treatment; European Jews living with fear and anxiety because of increasing anti-Semitism. Freedom? All of us remain enslaved in one way or another to some pharaoh.
Moments of Freedom
Freedom is the choice to live out our passions. For the Jewish people, and for many around the globe, Freedom is not taken for granted. History shows how many times nations fought to protect their culture. The greatest thing we can do for ourselves is bring joy to those around us. I aim to capture moments of freedom and expose a personal look in the theme. We can all strive to repair the world by showcasing great moments
St. Louis, Missouri