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"Of all the languages that have existed upon the Earth, the Hebrew language is unique and extraordinary in its ability to paint vivid pictures with words that lodge within the heart conveying deep and profound Truth."

– R. Alan Woods

(Scroll down to read about this portfolio)

The use of words in art can be traced to the earliest times. In painting, the inclusion of words was traditionally used either to demonstrate erudition on the part of the artist or patron (notably during the Renaissance and Baroque periods), or as explanatory addendums to what was portrayed pictorially (as seen in numerous Pre-Raphaelite and Art Nouveau paintings). In the case of the latter, words functioned as inscription, and as such, were typically situated outside the “frame” of the picture itself. In both instances, the use of words in pictorial art served a narrative purpose. It was part of the story-telling of the piece, either integrally or tangentially.


To a similar point, I have included Hebrew words within the compositions of several paintings in this portfolio for purposes of  contextualization. That is, while the words may not explicitly describe what is being portrayed, they are nonetheless meant to provide a conceptual reference to what is otherwise abstract imagery. In that sense, my use of words is intended to function as a narrative complement to the composition itself.


In other paintings within this portfolio, Hebrew words function as the focus of imagery in and of themselves. Linguists, cultural anthropologists, and those familiar with Hebrew will know that Hebrew is a language largely based on the use of root words, where one word and its spelling serves as the foundation for multiple related words and concepts. However, Hebrew words can be understood on levels that go beyond etymology; they can be studied and considered on other levels and within different contexts. Perhaps most notable is gematria, where the letters of a word each hold their own significance, symbolism, and meaning; where each letter is associated with a numerical value; and where those individual values, as well as their sum total, also hold certain instructional and spiritual meanings. Bearing this in mind, the paintings in this part of the portfolio (those of individual words) are intended to express not only cultural ideals and values – that is, their understood and vernacular meaning – but at the very least, they are also intended to present the viewer with a gateway to deeper contemplation. In doing so, the viewer is invited to consider whether and how the manner, style, composition, and visual context of representation communicates more than the meaning of the words themselves. It is here that the viewer is presented with an opportunity to understand, in a different way and with a different application, that real reading involves more than word recognition.

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