Parshat Ha’azinu

053_Charlotte Hart - Ha’azinu
Pen and ink on parchment, 2015

Artist: Charlotte Hart,  USA
Parshat Ha’azinu  represents the last moments of Moses’ life. My drawing depicts a water stone, symbolizing Moses’ refusal to obey, in front of all the Israelites,  a direct, holy command.   A stone with water in it holds life. In one Midrash, Moses was still vigorous and died by a Kiss. My Midrash envisions holy spoken words becoming visual to Moses. He saw the land and people of Israel through all time in an instant. It was that immediate depth of knowledge and understanding that ended his life.

The medium I used to create the Ha’azinu drawing for Women of the Book is pen and ink, the traditional medium of Torah scrolls. A relative found out that I was going to create a visual Midrash on parchment for the Woman of the Book project, and ordered kosher scribal inks, an inkwell and feather pens for me. I practiced with those inks and quills for a long while but was unable to move the lines as fast as my thoughts. Finally, I realized that those wonderful tools would only do for one part of the drawing: the black dot representing the navel of the pregnant earth, the even haShetiya, the well of souls of the foundation stone.

The visual art that I have done, inspired by the Torah portions, is intimately interwoven with my writing, but each are independent as well. The Midrash/poem for the Ha’azinu drawing, “The Water Stone,” is accompanied online by five additional stanzas. Each stanza relates to a section of the whole drawing. I have recorded and presented the complete text on my website.

The Water Stone, a Midrash on Deuteronomy 32:1

From a vibration came music of the limitless un-delved.
A quivering watery shudder opened all his senses.
Faint frequencies stirred a telling trope from far and he heard.
There. The land he would not enter, not only the dry mountain vista;
but that land unfettered by time, careening through space,
the people entering, burdened heavy with threat, laws and promise.
The vision swept past his life to the temple and scribes, the lowly and great,
past nascent trinity then logical ideas, ages of ignorance, silk road pilgrims,
classical wanderers, faiths of sword, sickle, apathy and hate, stone upon stone.
In the land, the trees were severed, trunk from root, olive to date.
Seeds scattered on the wind, took root and were loathed in places they loved. With no standing, they drifted. Where they took root and flourished, they finished in smoke.
Their pregnant land waited.
He saw the survivors return, they planted forests in memory of, in honor of.
The people were running to become, embracing science, turning to defense,
medical advance, technological brilliance, musical genius, mystical chess.
The trees bloomed and fruited.
Milk and honey, land for peace, no peace, all given in stillness.
The land undulated in heat and unfolded what would be.

About Charlotte

Charlotte Hart’s art exhibitions include: the Smithsonian National Museum of American Art, Studio im Hochhaus Die Kunst- und Literaturwerkstatt, Berlin, Levure Littéraire, Paris; and, work in the permanent collection of Art Institute of Chicago.

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