Spiritual Voices

The call for the “Spiritual Voices” exhibition was directed to Jewish artists in Southern Arizona,
primarily around Tucson. It read, “This invitational exhibit provides a venue for artists who see their work as an expression of their spiritual journey.” While many of the pieces in this show of work by 20 artists may not obviously translate as Judaic art, “Spiritual Voices” is an invitation to both artists and viewers to examine personal interpretations colored by a Jewish heritage of boundless curiosity, education and achievement. The forms, techniques, and media are as varied as the unique personalities of the creators.

On Sunday Dec. 3, from 2 to 4 pm, the public is invited to meet the participating artists, including Beth Surdut, Bob Samson, Bobbie Goodman, Boni Weinstein, Eli Langner, Jacqueline Cohen, Jere Moskovitz, Julie Szerina Stein, Karen Samson, Lauri Kaye, Laurie Sherman, Lily Rosenberg, Lynn Rae Lowe, Margery Langner, Nancy Charak, Nancy Norton, Naomi Spitzer, Peggy Rubin, Roberta Elliott and Sherrie Pasternak.

The selection included here is only a taste of what promises to be a banquet for the senses.

In Between Equanimity and Hysterics
Mixed media on brushed metal.

Lauri’s ongoing series, Tucson Portrait Stories, consists of commissioned and original portraits showcasing the people, places and events that make Tucson extraordinary.
“The most memorable part of my Jewish education is the importance of, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ which is drawn into the column of this piece. I wanted to show all aspects of self – positive and negative – with the commandment text in the forefront as a constant reminder.”

Antique copper crocheted wire with variegated ribbon yarn and beaded edge.

“It is my goal that my kippot be seen as Hiddur mitzvah, which means taking the time and making an effort to create or acquire the most beautiful ceremonial objects possible in order
to enrich the religious observance with aesthetic dimension.”


Portrait of a Man’s Soul
Bas-relief; mixed media (clear polyethylene, LED TV, wood, aluminum, steel, acrylic paint, digital media player, USB flash drive)

Eli is a published poet, artist and inventor who also collaborates with his wife, Margery Langner, in making fabric Judaica that is also represented in this exhibit. His piece involves multiple image exchanges, so must be seen in person.“For hundreds of years, artists have been making portraits that show what people look like on the outside. But our eyes, ears, noses and lips are not who we are on the inside. So here I am attempting to show what it might look like if one could see through a face and into a soul. I wanted the soul to be made of light, so I put a glowing TV screen behind a transparent mask. For this purpose, I sculpted my grandfather’s face as the example. I have depicted the soul with a series of still and moving images. Some of the images can be interpreted literally, while others are purely metaphorical. When viewing the piece, it’s best not to figure out the images, but to simply receive them emotionally.”

The Compass of My Heart
Ink pen and colored pencil on paper.
From the “Listening to Raven” series of drawings and stories that won the Literary Nonfiction Award at the Tucson Festival of Books in 2013.

“This piece speaks of my adventurous life and the unexpected turn that brought me to Tucson.
In my dream, a compass glinted between Raven’s feet as he lengthened his legs to land.
Wings whisked the air as he lofted onto my shoulder, nuzzling his beak into my hair. ‘What’s this?’ I asked him as he preened me, rubbing his head against mine, combing through my hair with his beak, tickling along my hairline. ‘Pay attention to what I’ve brought you,’ he murmured. I stroked his head and back, trying to read the compass of my heart.”



Spiritual Voices Exhibition
WHERE: Tucson Jewish Community Center ‘s Fine Art Gallery, 3800 E. River Road, Tucson
WHEN: Nov. 30 through Jan. 10
OPENING RECEPTION: Sunday, Dec. 3, from 2 to 4 pm
INFORMATION: 520-299-3000 or tucsonjcc.org
Coordinated by Lisa Mishler and Aimee Smythe
Juried by Lynn Davis

Beth Surdut is a tallit maker and creator of the illustrated nature series “The Art of Paying Attention” on NPR in Tucson.

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