Posts Tagged ‘magic eye gallery’

The Alphabet Angel

March 26, 2012


In The process of developing my Alchymy of Alphabets series at The Magic Eye Gallery (www.magiceyegallery.com), I came across an old journal entry from 3 December 2001: “Had a brief exchange with an elderly woman at the Carnegie Library in Squirrel Hill. She had just come from her afternoon yoga class. As we admired the array of hand-drawn classic scripts and illuminated quotations that comprised a local calligrapher’s guild exhibit, she remarked: “Do you think these are just a collection of pretty letters or some sort of secret message?” “Uh, good question; don’t know, maybe…” I shrugged to humor her, because you never know when someone might be a bit off. Then, beneath her mischievous green eyes she offered a twinkly smile . “Well, I believe that letters in themselves symbolize worlds of meaning that are only secret until you learn how to look at them.” She abruptly turned and sauntered away, leaving me to quickly sketch her in my journal and ponder a mystery that more than ten years later I am still decoding…

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Un-Literal Letters: The Instruments Of Imagination

February 5, 2012

Scroll Alefbet©2012 Ilene Winn-Lederer

Acanthus Alefbet©2012 Ilene Winn-Lederer

In December of 1968, as an illustrator/designer at Pictorum, Inc., a Chicago design firm, I received a Christmas gift from my employer, a devout Catholic, that would prove to be a map to my artistic future. Jewish Art From The Bible To Chagall by Ludwig Gutfeld (Thomas Yoseloff, New York, 1963) is a modest compendium of art, artifacts, architecture and sculpture created to express themes in the history and practices of Judaism.

It awakened my nascent curiosity about my ethnic and religious heritage, suggesting questions I did not know how to ask. As an art student, I had been intimidated by a demanding instructor whose own formidable skills in the lettering arts exposed the limits of my skills in that area. I became discouraged from considering a career in that area, yet, despite being unable to read Hebrew, I was particularly drawn to the examples of medieval manuscripts in this book with their hint of unlimited possibilities in these letterforms.

It was not until the early 70’s, when I became aware of the iconoclastic lettering works of the artists Ben Shahn and Leonard Baskin that I developed the courage to experiment on my own. In later years, with further exploration into their history and levels of meaning, my fascination with Hebrew letterforms grew, becoming incorporated into my illustrations and eventually manifesting into the series of  alphabets, two of which are shown in this post. Within my Magic Eye Gallery site (http://magiceyegallery.com/) under the pull-down menu, you can see the others in the Alchymy of Alphabets gallery. They are available as gicleé prints, sized to order.

According to the Sefer Yetsirah, a core Jewish mystical text, God created the world through the letters of the Hebrew alphabet and ten numbers or sefirot. I would humbly suggest that perhaps we can understand this process on our own micro level, honoring these letters as keys to unlock our imagination…