We first discovered Galia Goodman’s genius when it was time to create a bat mitzvah invitation for our daughter. We wanted something simple with Hebrew calligraphy of a verse that was special to her. Turned out beautifully! I am delighted to welcome her here and introduce her to you! Thanks, Galia, for sharing some of your journey with us.
Writing a blog post on a computer will be very different than what I usually do: I am an artist and calligrapher. I spend a lot of time writing, but with a calligraphy pen: constructing documents for Jewish weddings, B’nai Mitzvah gifts, baby-naming certificates, and other pieces that help people in the Jewish and non-Jewish communities mark important events in their lives and the lives of their loved ones.
Along with the calligraphy, I also illuminate the pieces. This means that when I’m finished, the document is not just words, but also art that reflects the occasion. It is not as cut and dried as it may sound! I work with my clients to create a piece that will reflect their view of the world, their hopes and dreams for a new life together and for the new lives that come into families, and even sometimes a remembrance of a life that has recently ended.
People sometimes assume that because of the second commandment, there must be no Jewish art. However, if you Google Jewish Art (please visit my guild’s page, the American Guild of Judaic Art, at www.jewishart.org), you will find a rich trove of both figurative and abstract art of many kinds. Much of what is created is ritual based: Torah covers, yads, Kiddush cups, Passover plates, Hannukah Menorahs. There are beautifully calligraphed Megillot, wedding documents and Torah scrolls. Tallitot, Kippot and embroidered or quilted table coverings for both the synagogue and home are everywhere.
So how did I get into this artistic niche?
I was teaching Hebrew at a Reform Synagogue in California. It was a long time ago: about thirty years, as I recall. A friend suggested that we take a calligraphy class so that we could make our lessons more interesting and artistic. After a few months, we started adding Jewish-syle paper cutting to the lettering, and I was off and running. Jewish paper cuts are done with a sharp knife, not scissors. Exacto or scalpel blades are the most commonly used tools. I learned some lessons quickly: there is a very real difference between positive and negative space, and if you don’t pay attention, the middle will fall out of your design! My first paper cuts were primitive and simplistic. I’m glad that stage didn’t last too long!
Now, in addition to the paper cutting, I use collage, acrylic, and watercolor to make my pieces. I’m not as committed to the pure paper cut form as I used to be, having discovered the joys of abstraction in my later years. In addition to the Judaica, I have created a large number of cut and torn paper landscapes, abstract collages that include deconstructions of my own photography and old work, and a very large and growing line of greeting cards that range from the sublime to the ridiculous. Examples of my work may be seen on my website, www.galiagoodman.com.
Take a moment from your busy day and get lost in this amazing collage from Galia. It combines deconstructed photographs that she took on trips to London, Paris, and Berlin, reflecting the concept of Tikkun Olam, repair of the world. Galia says prints of this are available.
Who are some of your favorite Judaica artists? What pieces of Judaica do you cherish?
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