Parshat Yitro

Mixed media on parchment, 2012

Artist: Silvia Rubinson,  Argentina

The elements that I have chosen to address in this piece are the handing down of the Ten Commandments and the precept of “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” In my view, these constitute the backbone and essence of the Torah and of life itself. They are fundamental, moral principles. To embrace them is to be engulfed in a world where “being” takes priority over “having”. They teach the importance of supporting good deeds and the undertaking of obligations. This creates an awareness that our actions produce consequences. They motivate us to recognize and respect others. They enjoin us to realize dreams without oppressing others. My recognition of the existence of such an uncompromising ethic enables me to add my own grain of sand to the construction of a better, more just world. Making such a choice as to follow these edicts is equal to ratifying a way of life and to honor all those fine people, my flesh and blood, who passionately passed on such principles and precepts to me.

To illustrate the parasha, I include in the parchment scroll an etching of the Ten Commandments, extracted from the particular scroll containing the Five Books of Moses (the Torah) brought by my family from Europe when they emigrated to Argentina in 1928. I also drew on commentaries and poems that extol the greatness of the Torah, most of which were found in primary and secondary school workbooks of that same period.

Finding the workbooks and the original volumes in the library of the school where my grandfather served as a teacher overwhelmed me with emotion. I am overjoyed to know that this heritage will travel great distances to bear witness to the fact that Torah and Derech Eretz (ethical ways of being in the world) were taught with devotion and love in such a far-off region. I chose to continue to work in the same spirit that guided me in producing the creations for my exhibition, “Geography,” where I developed a work examining the contribution made by Jewish immigration, history, and culture in Argentina.

I experimented with the letters, the texture, along with the colors and images by using various materials and discovered how this topic and exploration of my family roots still nourish my being. I play with images set near, and others more distant. In those that are near, we can appreciate the text and its meaning. In the more distant, they merge into the painting: light and shadow are created in letters, sayings, metaphors, poems, memories. They represent the value of the word, the weight of the scripture, the desire to create a dignified mold of human expression. Perhaps words challenge me because my family handed down everything in writing. I follow in their footsteps and in their persistence to seek to understand. I follow in their desire to leave evidence of existing. I am grateful today for their heritage and embrace it without hesitation.

About Silvia

Silvia Rubinson was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1952, where she lives and works, as a psychologist and visual artist. She is the author of “Art as a Tool for Subjective and Social Transformation.” Silvia attended the Luis Felipe Noe and Eduardo Stupia art seminars, and has studied with artists Mirta Kupferminc, Juan Doffo and Alejandro Weinstein.



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