A tisket, a tasket, I made a yellow basket

Anna VanDelman writes
(with apologies to Ella Fitzgerald)

Once again Pomegranate members indulged in an exciting creative project. It happened on a beautiful evening at Temple Sinai on Wednesday, April 27, 2016. As we entered the hall we were treated to a display of members’ own creations of vessels, each one  exquisite in own design and execution, made of felt, fabric, reed, and many other materials.

The evening began with a D’var Torah delivered by immediate past president Karen Chisvin. To set the scene for the program ahead, she spoke about the commandment to wash our hands – our instruments of work in the world. And she quoted from the words of Torah by Rabbi Frand about the vessels of the poor brought to the Temple for Shavuot. They were handmade wicker baskets, kept by the Kohanim to bring merit to the poor, while the gold and silver trays of the rich were returned to them as they were not vested with the labour of the pilgrims.

Melanie Siegel then introduced her friend and colleague, Michelle Zikovitz our guest lecturer for the evening. Michelle is currently Art Supervisor for the Town of Richmond Hill. She started out as a tapestry weaver and then fell in love with basket weaving. Her baskets are visually appealing as well as functional and practical.

Michelle then taught us to create a basic basket by weaving wet reeds around a styrofoam cup. We used her hand-dyed reeds (her personal favourite material) that helped us, like her other students of all ages, to develop an appreciation of the ancient artistry of basket weaving. And then, Guild members took off in all directions, using more reeds, our fabric stash, personal ornaments and other materials to continue and complete our work.

Michelle also directed us to Pinterest and other internet sources to explore more basketry ideas. For more about Michelle, see her website, and search for name in the images tab of your browser.

Thank you Michelle for a fascinating evening!

Meetings March and April

Anna Vandelman reports:

Meeting March 18th, 2015
Our Artist in Residence, Laya Crust, took us through an extensive review of Passover just as we entered the last few weeks of making our own Pesach.

She shared the artistic history of the Haggadah with a table full of beautiful examples. She showed us how the art in each Haggadah revealed local customs as well as social and political issues through elements such as clothing, furniture, buildings, symbols, and artistic style. The first printed map of Israel occurs in a Haggadah of 1526, the first etching of the Four Sons in a Haggadah of 1695, and the political aspirations of the Jewish Brigade are expressed in its Haggadah of 1943. And, we see how marketing gimmicks promote the use of particular Haggadot: Once coffee was available kosher for Passover, Maxwell House capitalized on that by providing a Haggadah with the purchase of a jar of coffee. We can see in the variety of Haggadot that its themes are continually reinterpreted, in text, but especially in art.

Members then examined Passover artifacts brought in by other Guild members. And we all started working on a hands-on activity of designing a Passover apron: to wear for getting the kitchen clean, making the chicken soup or gefilte fish, or engaging younger members in the family in the process. Thank you Leah for an exciting programme.

Meeting April 15th 2015
Our April meeting was an exciting co-presentation by the Pomegranate Guild and Darchei Noam synagogue, at Darchei Noam. The lecture and exhibit of her art by Dr. Myriam Nafte blew us all away!

Myriam Nafte discussing her work

Myriam Nafte discussing her work

Sara Petroff, Chair of the Art Committee at Darchei Noam welcomed us all and introduced Pomegranate Guild president Karen Chisvin. As this evening was the eve of Yom HaShoah, Karen commemorated the event with remarks that honoured the martyrs, survivors and resistance fighters, the Hagvurah and then introduced the artist/speaker Dr. Myriam Nafte.

Dr. Myriam Nafte is a woman for all seasons, involved in medicine, anthropology, mathematics, mysticism, forensics, science and Judaica (and, oh yes, art). She began as a textile artist doing aleph bet paintings on silk: a tapestry of Jewish thought, words of wisdom, words of praise. She uses text as powerful imagery. After many years of examining anatomical and other scientific texts for their drawings, Myriam spent a period of time learning Hebrew calligraphy from her sofer/artist father. This brought her back to those same scientific texts with the discovery that Hebrew was a significant scientific language, not just a language of ritual and religion. In the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the early Enlightenment, Jews were involved in science, math, and cosmography. They invented navigational instruments, and other tools and techniques – so many rich contributions hidden and lost. Myriam’s work recovers and re-situates Hebrew text for us as a language of art.

After the inspiring lecture we toured the hall to view incredible paintings by both Myriam and her father.

Edge of the Forest moves downtown

The Edge of the Forest exhibit will soon be moving from Richmond Hill to downtown Toronto. This announcement was posted on fibreQUARTERLY Group(ies). More information here and here. Work of 53 Canadian surface design artists is on exhibit, including work by Guild members Melanie Siegel and Barbara Goldstein. And, Rikki Blitt plays a significant role in the administration of the project.

Edge of the Forest