My Feelings About Being a Judaic Sculptor of Wood and Stone
by AGJA member, Lawrence Schloss, Centerport, New York
I grew up in Ohio in the 1950’s where being Jewish was better kept quiet. We lived in our own self-imposed shtetl. Our neighborhood barber had a J tattooed on his arm; the women working at Davis Bakery were survivors who sliced challah and cried; a Sabbath school teacher told us how soap was made from dead Jews.
My Judaic sculptures of wood and stone speak to those memories; my pieces say, “look at me, if you see beauty, you see Judaism.” Wood and stone are everywhere. They are eternal. So are the Jews.
“Star of David” was troubling for me since I had to fight my desire to present the Star of David as if it was exploding out of the earth…dripping with mud, ash and pain. In fact, I find that the most difficult aspect of being a Judaic sculptor is exercising restraint.
“Burning Bush” allowed me to channel my intensity by carving Hebrew in Stone…the letters cannot be erased, or wiped away. The cuts are deep and permanent. The piece is heavy.
“Dancing Rabbis” surprises even me since I really did not know I had such affection for Rabbis who dance…I saw them once on TV for a Jewish fundraiser. The joy and spontaneity of their twirling really struck a note…so I made the piece.
Through my Judaic sculptures, I have found a way to reconcile the complexities and mysteries of being a part of such a profoundly rich
culture and history.