Artist: Diane Samuels, USA
I chose parshat Pinchas because Zelophehad’s five daughters advocated and succeeded in changing land ownership from a solely male right. Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah petitioned Moses to receive a land allocation when the land was being divided among men of the twelve tribes based on a census of the male population. Zelophehad did not leave male heirs, so the daughters argued that their father’s name would be lost if they were not given a named portion. They won.
I divided the parchment into twelve sections based in size on the number of people counted in each tribe. Zelophehad was part of the tribe of Manasseh. Using carmine red ink, I hand transcribed the entire text of the parshat starting in the center of Manasseh and radiating out to cover the eleven other land allocations. When I completed the parshat, I hand-transcribed, in sepia ink, scholar Dr. Judith Hauptman’s commentary on the parshat Pinchas. In between each wind of the spiral are tally marks in groups of five to represent the counting of individuals for the census. Each of the twelve sections is tinted a different color and labeled with the name of the tribe it represents. The spiral radiating from the center of Manasseh is meant to look both topographical and anatomical.
Diane Samuels is a visual artist with both studio and public arts practices. In both she works collaboratively within communities to develop multi-disciplinary text- based work of intricate detail. Samuels holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University. In 2013 she was recipient of a Rockefeller Bellagio Residency in Italy and an American Academy in Jerusalem Fellowship. www.dianesamuels.net