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In the Jewish mystical tradition, God created the universe by using the Hebrew letters as its building blocks. In this belief arose the understanding that the right combination of Hebrew letters, together with the proper kavannah (intent), could bring forth life. In the 16th century Rabbi Judah Loew of Prague was said to have created a golem out of clay. Animating it with Hebrew letters, Loew used the golem to help protect the Jews of his city against harm.

My golem is an amalgamation of mystical beliefs and Judaism in the modern context. My use of rusted nails was influenced by African nail-fetish sculptures that magically heal the possessor or harm one’s enemies. The outstretched arms made of animal horns suggest the organic materials used by Rabbi Loew to create the original golem.

I then leap across time to the 20th century shtetls of Eastern Europe. The fur hat emulates the shtreimel worn by Orthodox Jews. Woven tzittzit, the ritual fringes of the tallit (prayer shawl) hang down from the sides of the body. Photos from that era fill the golem, but in their midst fires burn. The empty shoes immediately conjure the darkness of the death camps, and the absence of the golem to protect the Jewish People.

Listen to Ed talk about this piece in a video

Oil can, animal horns and skins, metal stool frame, photos, other mixed media objects
72 x 53 x 53 in.

[Hover over the image to magnify it]