A Tree Grows In Pittsburgh

I am settling back home from my visit to Squirrel Hill, the home of The Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha synagogue building in Pittsburgh, where the three communities New Light, Dor Hadash, and Tree of Life worshipped, and all lost members on October 27 of last year.

The Tree of Life is Weeping

The Tree of Life is Weeping

A part of me will forever remain there. I poured my heart into my painting, The Tree of Life is Weeping, and the community, survivors, families of the slain, first responders, received with their selves in tears and gratitude. We touched by means of the painting. To have my artwork contribute to healing—my soul has reached its pinnacle. I will write another blog about what I learned. I experienced a whole kehillah grieving, but also tremendous energy from the world community aimed toward supporting, giving, healing: Tikkun Olam in the deepest sense of the Hebrew word: correcting and transforming evil energy into good. The Tree of Life, the universal symbol of miraculous diversity, harmony, peace and thriving is being nourished by many, in the face of this tragic assault.

I have made a decision to offer giclee art prints of the painting for sale, and donate a portion of the proceeds to the Pittsburgh affiliate of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society or HIAS. Because the local community supported HIAS, it was targeted by the shooter.

In the Mind's Eye

What do I see? 

I had a lot of difficulty imagining drawing these angels. Seeing them in the "mind's eye" is one thing, but drawing what I see--that is another. Would they be flying around? Encircling? Standing?

I tried doing a drawing of this once for a dying man, and while it comforted the family, I did not like the drawing. That was years ago, and I had been stymied since then as to how to represent the concept that we are constantly surrounded by angels. 

The paradigm places them: Michael on the right, Gavriel on the left, Uriel before us, Raphael behind, and the Holy Presence above.  I have experienced them: Michael's support, Gavriel helping me prioritize, Uriel lighting the way forward when I felt I didn't know where I was going, and Raphael closing up wounds, smoothing, healing as time passed. The Holy Presence feels further away than the angels, but again, if I put my intention into it, I can experience The light from above. 

Yes, I was stuck. But in the meantime, singing about these angels at the bedside of many an ill or dying person, they became close friends, and I witnessed the healing power the concept had on the families and the persons in need of support. I tried drawing them a few times, but was never satisfied with the result.

If I think of the artistic process through the lens of the "Four Worlds" in Kabbalistic thought, I was now swimming in the world of Briyah, Creation, where a concept is still vague. That is the uppermost pink realm in this painting.The idea needed fermenting in order to descend closer to this tangible world.. Next: "Style as a Choice."