I have always been fascinated by the story of the Akedah. As an adolescent I identified with Isaac and the “binding”; I focused on the son. As a father and grandfather my focus came back to the patriarch, Abraham, and the “sacrifice.”
In my early sketches I had all four characters in the drama approximately the same size and equal in strength… Abraham, Isaac, the angel and ram. (see art on right)
After countless sketches I changed direction and focused on Abraham. It was
also important for me artistically to make Isaac and the ram the same size--interchangeable.
I read numerous books on the Akedah (the best in my opinion is Bruce Fielder's-- Abraham.). This short biblical passage—Genesis 22:1-18, is equally relevant to the biblical narrative used by Jews, Christians and Moslems.
In my work of art I incorporated many hidden symbols... I needed Abraham to look up at the angel Gabriel and down at his son Isaac; I needed a cubist style face. In many biblical works I use a hand as the symbol for an angel or God. In the creation of the alter I used eighteen stones--the Judaic symbol for "life." The alter is surrounded by twigs on each side. A Hassidic tales believes that the twigs are from the garden of Eden; they are from the tree of life and the tree of knowledge. Placed between the stones of the sacrificial alter is a note (Tzetel), just like the ones found within the stones of the Western Wall (Kotel) in Jerusalem. Who left the note? Abraham, Isaac, God or me? The ram's horns represent two shofars. The left one is symbolic of the shofar used on the Jewish High Holy Days, on the right, the larger is the shofar to be used in announcing the coming of the Messiah. The strings used to tie Isaac's hands are in the shape of the Hebrew letter Shin. The same letter used on the mezzuzah and on tfellin--where one binds their head to God. There are additional symbols in the work-- look for them, study the story that has three religions referring to it as part of their origins, mostly enjoy the work.
Multimedia, acrylic and pastel--17" x 36"
One of hundreds of early sketches