Contact firstname.lastname@example.org From North America: (510) 550 1173 In Israel: (077) 662 1230
Liliana Kleiner, Argentina/Israel
Parshat VaYeitzei is a metaphor for the search of the human soul, for shleimut (wholeness).
In Jacob's dream of the ladder and the angels ascending and descending, I see the union of the upper and lower realms of being. The images of Rachel and Leah express the union of the light and dark pans of the feminine. And as Jacob unites with his brides, he brings about the union of the masculine and feminine worlds. The stories surrounding this image are an attempt at integrating the "good" and "evil" faces of humanity which manifest in a series of manipulations and lies carried our by the different participants.
As Jacob earlier cheated his brother in order to get his father's blessing, so Leah's father cheats Jacob to have his eldest daughter married first. Later, Rachel cheats her father and Jacob in order to keep the pagan gods she believes in.
The observer keeps learning that the truth is many layered, that each person holds just a piece of it and that wholeness is achieved by collecting all the pieces and putting them together.
Finally, the Hands in my work represent the hands of the Spirit that guides us. The 13 Stars stand for the twelve tribes with the inclusion of the tribe of Dinah. The Bird is the soul here on Earth, the Shechinah (Presence of God) that walks among us.
Liliana Kleiner is a visual artist born in Argentina and raised in Israel. She divides her time living and working in Jerusalem and North and South America. Liliana is known for her visionary oil paintings and her earthy woodcuts created on her hand made papers. Liliana has published two art books — The Song of Lilith, 2007 and The Song of Songs, 2010. In addition to her creations on paper, Liliana works in Performance Art and Dance and in Film and Video. She has produced two art films. Liliana’s PhD in Clinical Psychology with a focus in Jungian dream analysis deeply influences her creative work. Her artworks appear in galleries and private collections throughout America and Israel and can be viewed at her website: www.lilianakleiner.com.
Reflections on Being a Jewish Woman Artist
I was born in Buenos Aires on Dec. 8th — the day of "The Immaculate Conception" — a national holiday in Argentina. My parents were second generation immigrants from eastern Europe and Russia, but I always wanted to believe that our "Ashkenazi" blood was mixed with that of the local Natives, maybe because as a kid growing up in the 50's and 60's and watching Cowboys and Indians on TV, I identified with the Native's love of freedom, wilderness and horses. From an early age, I attended the Catholic school down my street. It was an all girls school run by nuns. I was usually the only Jewish girl in the class with anti-Semitic attitudes all around me. Still, I managed to excel. I believe that my wild imagination and popularity in the arts and sports is what helped me. I started my official "painting lessons" at the age of 6, with an Italian master who convinced my parents that, in spite of me being Jewish and a girl, I would be a great artist. From early on, I identified with the archetype of the "Wild Woman", the undomesticated female. I was a tomboy, a handful for my sweet mother and a menace for my conservative father. At age 5, I openly rebelled against my Zeide and Bubbe by refusing to wear a dress, even though they wouldn't let me into their home dressed in pants. My Zeide, a very conservative Jewish scholar, was constantly disapproving of my strong temperament and love of equality and freedom. It is from him that I first heard the blessing "Thank God for not making me a woman... or a slave or a Goy". My obedient father followed his father's teachings, but fortunately for me, my mother found in herself the strength to protect me and to secretly encourage and enjoy my rebellious, wild nature. I was her voice. Like many other assimilated Jews in those days, my parents rejected religion and embraced Socialism and Zionism. They dreamt about the "Promised Land" and, finally, in May 1964, we boarded the "Theodore Herzl" in Buenos Aires. Twenty-eight days later we arrived at the port of Haifa. I was 11 at the time and that odyssey was for me like the journey of the Argonauts - full of wandering and adventures. I spent my days exploring the ship, swimming in the pool and painting pictures. At the end of the trip, the captain asked to keep the painting I had made of the ship, which won me the first prize in the talent night competition.
In 1966 I was one of the few children privileged to attend the opening year of the Youth Art section of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. I would walk for an hour each way from my boarding school, through the Jerusalem hills to my weekly art classes at the Museum. During these solitary walks, I felt the Divine energy as a protector and guiding Light around me, an awesome feeling of Unity. I knew very little about the Torah/Bible and of religious thought, but I was very proud to be an Israeli and a Jew and I believed in God. My faith changed with age, and in 1973 while I was a young woman serving in the Israeli army, I experienced the collective trauma of the Yom Kippur War. That dark experience became the beginning of my questioning my people and my patriotism. Soon after, while attending Haifa University, I was exposed to Feminist and Psychological analysis and thereby new ideas that opened my mind and changed my life. I turned into a devoted feminist , an Amazon warrior fighting the injustices of a world run by patriarchal structures based on racism and misogyny. Like most young people in the 70's, I was an idealist eager to change the world, but I soon realized that the Israeli society of which I was a part was not changing. In 1980 I left Israel looking for the Earth Goddess among the natives of the world. I headed for Latin America in search of "the Black Madonna." This marked the beginning of a long journey into my "Earth Roots."
My path eventually brought me to Canada, where I completed a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Jungian dream analysis while continuing my artistic development and exploring theater, dance and film. My community became my peers and collaborators. Until one day, while living in Montreal and teaching in the Women Studies department I had a numinous dream that changed my path again. In the dream an old woman named Shulamit presented me with a large book with a red cover while asking me to keep it. As I took the book, I noticed that on its cover was engraved the name Lilith and that it radiated pure light. In my conscious life, I had never before heard of Lilith so I set out to search for her in myself and in the world. That was in 1987 before the internet revolution caught up with me. I slowly learned that Lilith, in Jewish tradition, was known as a "Jewish demoness" and that a popular Jewish feminist magazine in New York had adopted her name. Shortly thereafter I visited Israel and allowed synchronicity to unfold. While walking in downtown Tel Aviv, I entered a second-hand bookstore packed with detective paperbacks and light romances. Just as I was about to leave, a book fell from the shelf and landed by my feet. As I picked it up to place it back on the shelf I read on its cover The Jewish Goddess by Raphael Patai. I opened it straight to the chapter on Lilith. This began my return to Judaism through the back door. I called it "Hazara with Tshuvah." I started re-reading and researching the Torah with new eyes. Following the spirit of Lilith, the wild woman of Judaism, I studied the Talmud and the Kabbalah only to discover that I was not alone in my attempts to bring Lilith's archetypal energy out of the shadows and into the light. Years later, while living and working in my studio in Galiano Island, Brithish Columbia, tucked in the woods of the beautiful Canadian West Coast, I gave birth to my first art book, The Song of Lilith, a collection created on hand made papers crafted from organic materials in my surroundings. The Song of Lilith is a song that prays for wholeness, for the union of Lilith, Even and Adam within myself and within all humanity. It draws the feminine Archetype, the Shechinah, down to earth. It is with Her guidance that I was able to bring The Song of Lilith into the light of the world. Since then I have created yet another book of woodcuts for the Song of Songs.
After years of working in isolation, of being a modern Jewish woman artist that challenges tradition, I feel blessed to receive the spirit of the Shechinah as a guidance in the world. Presently, she is guiding me in this beautiful collaborative project of Jewish women artists and has blessed me with the challenge of painting the Parshat Vayeitze. It is a privilege and gift from Her to create a painting that speaks of dreams from heaven and of Rachel and Leah, my foremothers. Throughout my life the Spirit has worked itself in ways that are hidden and wonder-full. It is Her Hidden Splendor, the 'Nistar' of Her essence that calls and guides me through my dreams, visions and life journeys. The voice of the "bat Kol" (the Shechinah's name) constantly whispers to me and to anyone who cares to listen and dares to believe.