Seeing Torah

August 16 – January 7, 2024

Seeing Torah The quilt exhibition by Anita Rabinoff-Goldman is a stunning artistic interpretation of a verse from each of the Torah’s 54 portions done with fabric. The small quilts are a visual commentary illuminating the spiritual, political, and feminist lessons of the 54 portions of the Torah that personally resonated with her as an artist, woman, wife, mother, and grandmother.

Seeing Torah is a visual diary documenting my study and artistic response to each of the 54 portions of the Torah over the cycle of a single Jewish year. It is my hope that by adding my voice to the long-running conversation that is the reading and interpretation of Torah, viewers will encounter the text in fresh ways and deepen and broaden their own explorations of it. In this way, the work is a visual midrash in the tradition of Jewish creative commentary--imaginative re-envisionings that both enhance and illuminate the text for all who seek to be refreshed by it. The voice I bring to this project is that of a woman, a wife, a mother, and a grandmother. I look for often overlooked women in the text because we were surely a part of the story even if we were often nameless. I look for ways in which our historic leaders might inform today’s political climate. I look for the reasons someone might have behaved in a particular way towards another and consider how it applies to our own relationships. Seeing Torah is infused with a desire to present the heart and spiritual weight of the stories we continue to read and value. Quilts are my canvas, fabrics my paint. While visual imagery may be transferable between media, the added tactile dimension of the quilt, along with the emotional dimension that fabric carries with it, makes quilt-making a particularly potent expressive force for me. My goal with this project is to create a compilation of Torah stories by means of both visual and tactile images that, together, illuminate those sections of text that especially resonate for me. One way we understand our world is through stories; another is through art. Torah is the story of the Jewish people--part historical, part political, part allegorical, part mystical, part poetic. It is also a piece of my personal history. While I have heard every Torah portion at one time or other in my life, until I embarked on this project I had never read the Torah sequentially and in its entirety. The result is a 54- piece collection of artistic renderings that is both a unified whole--the entire Torah presented sequentially-- and also separate components that range from fantastical to literal, from political to playful. Using small "canvases" in the form of individual 11-inch square works comes naturally to me. I like the immediacy and intimacy such pieces allow, having created such small visual responses in the past to particular pieces of text I'd studied and also in response to events in my own life. While I use a variety of techniques in my work, I take my response to the text and create imagery by collaging fabrics made of many kinds of patterns, colors, and textures. The fabrics often speak to me with their unique personalities, guiding me in my choices. A single piece can have many, many distinct kinds of fabric, each swatch different from the others yet together forming a holistic whole. The pieces in this collection are purposely unfinished. Finished edges would imply that the particular image, the particular interpretation, was the only one to be had. But Torah study is an ongoing process, and interpretation is fluid, allowing both the artist and the viewer to add their own experience of it each time they encounter it. The loose threads represent and invite this view.