Would you get bored if you had to do the same thing over and over again in the exact same way every time? Yes? So would traditional artists!
Even though traditional artists make and do things that have been done many times, they do them in unique and special ways. As you look at and learn about the objects below, ask yourself how Annabelle turned traditional objects of the Jewish faith into art made in her own unique way.
Have you ever seen this kind of “hat”? It’s a yarmulke, one of the most recognized pieces of Jewish clothing, worn by Jews while they pray. Yarmulkes can be plain or decorated. When Annabelle made this yarmulke, she was living in Israel and was part of a sewing group with Jewish women from Morocco and Tunisia. She liked the bright strong colors those women used and so she borrowed that style of decoration. Annabelle used crewel stitches on this yarmulke.
A Jewish wedding ceremony takes place under a chuppah. A chuppah is a decorated piece of cloth held above the bride and groom by four poles. Usually under the chuppah is a table with two glasses and a bottle of kiddush wine. Annabelle made this chuppah for her family. She embroidered the name of each couple that was married underneath it, using gold thread on the white cloth. There is room for names from many generations on Annabelle’s chuppah.
Go to a Jewish home and look on the door frame. You might see a small case known as a mezuzah. The mezuzah is meant to be a constant reminder of God’s presence and God’s commandments. Usually the letter “Shin” is written on the outside. Shin is the first letter of one of God’s names in Hebrew.
A tiny scroll with two handwritten passages from the Torah is inside the mezuzah. To be a true mezuzah, the people who live in the house must pray a special blessing over it. Mezuzahs can be made out of many different materials: cloth, pewter, aluminum, wood, almost anything you can think of! Of course, Annabelle’s mezuzahs are made of textiles.
Israel, a land Jews claim as their homeland, is in the Middle East. Israel borders three continents: Africa, Asia, and Europe. The Dead Sea, a body of water to the east of Israel, is the lowest point on earth. Above is Annabelle’s interpretation of Israel in fabric. Can you see the resemblance? Do you think that Annabelle’s “Israel” looks like a woman? Annabelle thought so.
The colors in the yarmulke, the family names on the chuppah, the embroidered mezuzah, and the fabric map of Israel—these are examples of how Annabelle made traditional Jewish art but added her personal artistic voice at the same time.
In Your Community
Would you like to learn about Judaic art in your community? Visit your local synagogue and ask members there if they know someone who makes art related to Judaism. Resources for Students has a link to Annabelle’s synagogue, Beth Israel Center, and other topics related to Judaic art.
“Everything here is Judaic. It’s Biblically inspired. There is nothing secular here. Not that I couldn’t do a secular thing, but the outpouring of my life has been in this area so this is what I represent.”
– Annabelle Argand