Exodus is Always an Altar
יציאת מצרים היא תמיד מזבח
Mixed media (plastic, paper, glass and copper wire), with Nancy Chinn, 1989
Years later, reflecting on this piece, I am amazed at my hutzpah, combined with the ignorance and ambition of a beginner. Here are the advantages of working with an artist and teacher, and the super-advantage of not knowing the rules of the game. This black plastic thing I called an altar was actually a display stand for tights. In applying the glass shards (the pyramids and suffering of Egyptian slavery) to the shiny black surface I had good lessons in the exposure of negative space and of continuing the line of vision from and to. The ten levels of movement from darkness to light (the crossing of the Red Sea and the desert journey) were originally the opaque plastic separators between the layers of tights. I had to show the eye how to move from darkness toward light, from one level to another.
Arrival at Sinai is the white arc of heaven from which divine light is refracted through a prism. A copper mountain range challenges access to the Divine, but also brings one closer to it. When the front and sides of the assemblage were done, I thought I was finished. Nancy said, this is free standing. You have to deal with the back of it. Oh no! Frankly I was already sick of the thing. I wanted nothing more than to be free of it. While the front and sides of the assemblage are both Jewish and universal the back of the assemblage became my personal exodus, the shelves of my personal closet, starting with my parents' wedding picture. Me in thick braids around my head and that horrible brown skirt I used to starch and iron every week. At 19, old enough to marry but too young to get my marriage license without my mother's signature. Yes, Exodus is an altar.