This is part of a larger painting/collage that in turn is part of a children’s book I am making inspired by “Had Gadya,” the song we sing at the Pesah Seder’s conclusion. The piece this paper cut-out comes from interprets the song’s final verse “And God came and killed the angel of death.” The verse presents an obvious challenge to a Jewish artist reluctant to “portraitize” God. It also echoes this week’s parashah: God steps in after destruction and promises an end to such destruction (Gen. 8:10-22). Perhaps for this reason I gravitated toward recycling this image.
As an “artist” and a chaplain I seek (in Donald Schön’s words) “to have a reflective conversation with the materials of a situation,” using what I find in collaboration with the person(s) I am with or to whom I am responding. By materials I mean emotions, circumstances, and of course literal materials like the newspapers I saved from the days after September 11, without knowing exactly why. I allow my “Had Gadya” pieces to swallow these materials and regurgitate them in new/old form.
I surmise that “Had Gadya” is meant to help us transition from the liberation night of the Seder back into the violent world of terror we still inhabit. Noah’s dove is still with us but as thin as newspaper now, only a hairsbreadth clear of the latest cataclysm.