A gorgeous, thoughtful, and quietly provocative assemblage of art.

FACES OF THE MATRIARCHS

AN ARTISTIC DEPICTION OF WOMEN IN GENESIS

An artistic exploration of four prominent women from the Torah.

Debut author Lewis has long been fascinated by the intersection of Judaism and art, and she finally found time to devote herself to examining it in depth after she retired in 2000 from her position as a college biology professor at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. She began taking art classes and eventually rented studio spaces and exhibited her work in art shows. Inspired by an exhibit of artist Natalie Frank’s work, which offered “feminist re-imaginings” of the Brothers Grimm’s famous fairy tales, the author set out to conduct an artistic investigation of four biblical matriarchs: Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Leah. Lewis created 12 original paintings of them, done in acrylics and pastels, all beautifully reproduced in this coffee table–worthy hardcover. Each image is accompanied by relevant biblical quotes, fleshing out each story’s context, as well as Lewis’ own commentary, including an account of her artistic process. Her approach is personal but panoramic, and in her artworks, the reader gets the opportunity to see each figure from a variety of angles. For example, Sarah is portrayed as the “face of power,” the “face of joy,” and “the face of brokenness.” Lewis doesn’t produce an iconoclastic deconstruction of these women in this book; instead, she attempts to capture their lives as they lived them, mostly as “spouse, homemaker, child bearer, and caregiver.” As the author herself points out, her art style is clearly inspired by Russian-French artist Marc Chagall’s work, with its dreamy juxtaposition of images, its hint of surrealist imagination, and its use of brilliant color. Overall, Lewis’ collection of artworks is an engrossing one. She aims for a realistic fidelity to her subjects, but, for her, that doesn’t mean photographic realism. She powerfully captures the complexities of all four of these intriguing figures, all “exemplary yet flawed,” and by extension, she provides profound illustrations of different aspects of humanity. The author also manages to deliver astonishingly complete expressions of the four women despite the limited information that’s available about them: “what we do know suggests they are women of strength: they speak their minds and act; they show loyalty to God and their spouses and families,” she writes. Her descriptions and commentaries offer lucid, even plain, language, permitting the pictures, and the pertinent quotations from Scripture, to take center stage. She also limits the scope of her commentaries on the art itself, mostly offering observations about technical production; this gives readers the interpretive space to freely fashion their own responses to it. What emerges is a moving glimpse into the lives of a group of famous but mysterious women—thrillingly concrete images that gesture in the direction of something more intimate. This book will be an unconventional treat for anyone who shares the author’s interests in modern art and the history of Judaism. The book also hints at a broad, if less modern, interpretation of feminism along the way.

A gorgeous, thoughtful, and quietly provocative assemblage of art.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-946295-02-6

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Sociosights Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

Did you like this book?

DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

Did you like this book?

more