An Alphabet For a Holy Land

An Alphabet For A Holy Land, hand stitching, oil paint, collage, human hair and cow bone on paper and cloth, 17 inch diameter, 2011.

In March 2011, I was asked to make a piece for the Jewish Museum of Kansas City. The work had to be in response to a vast assortment of Judaica owned by Michael Klein, a local collector. Immediately, I was drawn to an alphabet, in Hebrew and in Polish, used to help young children to learn their letters. It was a haunting artifact. Dating from the 1920s, it was brightly colored and hopeful. Its intention was to secure a literate future for Poland¹s young, Jewish scholars. I wondered how many observers of this poster had perished at the hands of the Nazis. Contemplating it, I began to think about how the conflict in the Middle East is an indirect result of the Jewish Holocaust, in that Palestine was portioned to make a nation for displaced and terrorized survivors. I wanted to make an "alphabet" that addressed the conjecture that the ramifications of the Jewish Holocaust reverberate in contemporary politics. Thus, the disks that are striped and that frame the edges of the piece represent the uniforms of the Jewish Holocaust, whereas the disks with camouflage fabric represent soldiers of both Arab and Jewish descent. Each presents either a fragment of bone or a tuft of hair sewn upon it, to represent the carnage and loss that both peoples have endured. The words are an "alphabet" from the Arab-Israeli conflict. Threads connect the disks on the edges to a red center in which bone and hair are prominently displayed, along with the words "please, peace in my lifetime."