Sunday, October 22, 2023

Fall Greetings and a letter from the heart


Mark Podwal, Jerusalem in My Heart, 2001

Dear friends,

I live with this image of Jerusalem etched by Mark Podwal. It's a rose cradling three religions, growing and thriving from its stem of thorns. It is a metaphor for the region that cradles Israel and Palestine today. What can we say?  There are no words. We feel these thorns. We pray for the survival of the rose. When will the conflict in the Middle East end? This image seems to say that the only way to see this region survive, having experienced its thorny history, is to rise above it, protecting this vision of peaceful coexistence among the main religions, if not all humankind.

I am praying everyday that all sides of the conflict will reach a peaceful agreement and work toward the survival of all who have been dragged into this horror. Their pain and suffering belongs to us all, there and here - as we worry daily for the hostages and the possibility of an all out war among Israel and its neighbors. We pray for peace as soon as possible.

My heart goes out to the mourners, whose lives have been damaged forever because of their losses. My heart goes out to the family members who wait for word from their loved ones in captivity. My heart goes out to the families who are enduring bombs on both sides, the destruction on both sides, the loss of their homes and personal security on both sides. And my heart goes out to those who tried to broker peace in the region, failed, and lived to see this horror. I remember those who died because they tried to make it happen: Anwar Sadat, Yitzak Rabin, and countless others.  

Our population on earth is enduring war, terrorism, gang violence, and personal assaults/assassinations all the time, all over the place. What can we do? 

I have no idea. . . .

Mark Podwal, Jerusalem in My Heart, 2001
original ink drawing; image courtesy of the artist

I often think about what to write for this blog and then it feels trite and inconsequential in the face of the pain of so many others. So, I don't write anything at all.  Art is all I can offer.  Is this enough for you? Does art lift you up out of your sorrow and bring relief, if only for a little while?

After the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, the Purchase College class I had begun the week before, Thursday, September 6, 2001, corresponded through email to affirm our mutual decision to carry on. We must continue the class, which met weekly at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  We had to be together, resist fear of public spaces, support art, and support each other as we faced the unknown.  That week, we couldn't even imagine being alive today. We only worried about getting through each day and tomorrow.  

At that time, art helped us persevere because we decided to remain together and enjoy our Thursdays at the Met together. We had each other and we had the treasures in this extraordinary cultural institution guiding us out of the darkness and into the light of historical proof that humankind carries on, producing beauty despite all the setbacks imposed by our fellow humans or Mother Nature herself.

Take care, my dear friends - use art to escape from your sorrows, use art to heal. Take a moment to forget the painful truth of our present world crises as you stand in front of wondrous creativity.  

Later this week, I will post on this blog a calendar of exhibitions that I hope bring you comfort and joy.

With love and hugs,