These paintings are my portals through which I conjure worlds and wander through them. They are windows into my personal paradises, and some of them have windows into neighboring paradises.
My grandmother Rose, a Holocaust survivor, died almost exactly one year ago. I got to spend one final Rosh Hashanah with her, and then she died a few days later, in her home in Toronto. My first Friday back in Brooklyn after the funeral, I went on an evening walk and thought about her. I would frequently call her on Friday evenings to wish her a Shabbat Shalom. I walked by this book, left on a stoop:
It felt like the book was a sign from my grandmother, a Shabbat Shalom. I went home and I started to paint her portrait. I based the painting off of a photograph of her that was taken shortly after the war ended. A Jewish photographer who lived in the same ghetto as her in Poland had lost his daughter in the war, and asked if he could take my grandmother's portrait in part to honor the memory of his own child.
This photograph of my grandmother has been legendary for my whole life; it's framed in our homes, it's brought out on birthdays. Using it as a reference for my painting revealed details I had never noticed: the outline of dark lipstick on my grandmother's lips, the way her hair was braided, the whimsy of her polka-dot blouse. I was seeing her as a vulnerable child for the first time, which was in such stark contrast to the strong, stern and pragmatic woman I knew her to be.
Rose, acrylic on canvas, 2022
Since then, I've used other portraits of her as reference images in my work (Queen of Beets); this practice of getting to know a soul through careful painting has extended and grown into a secret garden for me.
These paintings are all connected by threads of my inspiration. I hope that through this story, and through my work, you can see how much I love exploring different realms.
Her Name Is Miranda, acrylic on canvas, 2023
After A Bath, acrylic on canvas, 2023
Fran Goes To Delphi, acrylic on canvas, 2023
The Queen of Beets, acrylic on canvas, 2022
Late-Night Visit Under My Lamp, acrylic on canvas, 2023
Little Boot's First Passover, acrylic on canvas, 2023