Parshat B’reishit

001_Susan Schwalb - Bereishit
Silverpoint, acrylic, gold leaf on parchment, 2008

Artist: Susan Schwalb, USA


If you love the Creation Theory, as I do, you want to read B’reishit. The Creation story is miraculous to me, the idea that God divides the earth and slowly adds to it over seven days.

In approaching my parasha, I found myself looking at a series of drawings I made some years ago entitled “Creation.” The story of Creation has always interested me, especially as it is portrayed in the history of art in earlier paintings, prints, and drawings. My first “Creation” series was inspired by illuminations of Genesis in a 14th century Hebrew manuscript known as the “Sarajevo Haggadah,” composed in Barcelona and brought into exile by a Jewish family in 1492. Now one of the treasures of the Sarajevo National Museum, it is celebrated for its complete set of illuminations for Genesis as well as Exodus. When I first came across the “Sarajevo Haggadah,” I was powerfully stirred by images of arc and circle that had obsessed me for several years.

For this project, I stayed close to the symbolic imagery of this Sarajevo manuscript where the sun, moon, and earth are clearly rendered by circular forms. By dragging a silver rod or wire across a gesso surface, in the traditional silverpoint process, I drew six small circles to symbolize each of the six days of the Creation story and one large circle for the day of rest. I added acrylic paint and gold leaf to evoke the feeling of early manuscripts. The drawing inside each circle is an abstract rendering of the world slowly coming into being, forming the Creation narrative. . .

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About Susan

Susan Schwalb is one of the foremost figures in the revival of the ancient technique of silverpoint drawing in America. Schwalb’s oeuvre ranges from drawings on paper to artist books and paintings on canvas. Her work is represented in numerous public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the National Gallery, Wash. D.C., The British Museum, London, The Library of Congress, and The Israel Museum, Jerusalem.



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