enamel paint on wood
seven pieces in suite
Commissioned work can lead us into fascinating directions we might not have otherwise sought. Parable represents such a case. An inherited bedroom suite, the rich narrative of Eastern-European immigrant families assimilating into the bustling culture of twentieth-century New York City, and the entanglement of dreams, experience, memory and reality combine into a complex visual saga that is sophisticated yet mysterious.
Across this 1940s suite of furniture gracefully stylized figures are caught in moments of real and imagined events. Inscribed within their shadows are memories of the family’s immigrant experience as well as cultural folktales. These painted figures are reminiscent of the sculptures of Elie Nadelman, a Polish Jew who, like the family, fled Europe in the early part of the century. I found his elegant, folk-and-classically-inspired sculptures of people an inspirational match to the refined forms of the bedroom suite. The ghostly coloration of his wooden pieces, adapted here, also suit the themes of memory and otherworldly spirits. The tops of the case pieces continue the celebration of heritage with painted versions of papirn-shnit or paper-cutting, embellished with micrography, an original Jewish art form in which a line of text forms the line of drawing.
As painted, this suite of furniture, with its separate elements forming a whole, presents an interpretation of a history, not fact. But what is memory if not interpretation of the facts through time and experience, and especially through desire of how things should be?