Parshat Noach

Ink, acrylic, watercolor on parchment, 2015

Artist: Ilene Winn-Lederer,  USA

Though the images in this interpretation appear as a prosaic and straightforward illustration of the story of Noach, his ark, and the Deluge, they are not. Interpreting the Torah portion Noach on a strictly literal level was too simple for me. As an illustrator, my natural curiosity provokes me to probe for deeper meaning between the lines of any given text. I was drawn to Noach not just for the dramatic pictorial possibilities, but because of the other subjects that emerge in the story: our environment, midrashic interpretations of Jewish history, and the moral codes embedded in Torah.

Noach and his wife, Na’amah, flank the central figure of the Shechinah, the feminine aspect of God, who holds a flaming sword and an olive branch. These items signify the attributes of tzedek [justice or righteousness] and rachamim [mercy], two of the three pillars that support the metaphysical Tree of Life. Suspended from her ears are the first initials of those Hebrew words, צ and ר. Her veil covers only one eye, illustrating that justice and mercy must objectively temper each other. The double eagle on her crown underscores this duality, which is the underlying theme for the story of Noach. For me, the concept of duality is the common thread throughout all of Torah in that it illuminates heavenly and earthly actions and their consequences. The story of Noach, with its disastrous flood and ensuing rainbow, illuminate God’s attributes of justice and mercy to demonstrate that we, too, are capable of both actions.

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About Ilene

Pittsburgh-based Ilene Winn-Lederer creates original art & books published under her imprint, Imaginarius Editions. She attended the Art Institute of Chicago & The Chicago Academy of Fine Arts.  Ilene is also the author & illustrator of Between Heaven & Earth: An Illuminated Torah Commentary (Pomegranate, 2009)


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