Sarah Nina Meridor’s exhibition ‘Imagework’.
(photo credit: PR)
In Sarah Nina Meridor’s opinion, making art is a religious act.
“Creation is the prayer of the artist,” she says. “It is the artist’s way to understand ourselves and our nature.”
Meridor is no stranger to prayer, not in her personal life nor in her work.
“I am not secular,” she says. “As an artist, I can see all of the beauty in the world and not believe in the sublime.”
Her exhibition “Imagework,” which opened last week at Jerusalem’s Agripas 12 Gallery, features reconfigured self-portraits of Meridor in mid-prayer.
“What is prayer? It is my way of connecting between the human and godly natures in me. For me, the selfportrait was the material for this concept,” she explains.
To construct these haunting and luminous images, Meridor married mirror images to create a new whole.
“What I discovered is that half and half doesn’t make a whole – it makes a completely new thing.”
Meridor, 40, was born and raised in Lvov in western Ukraine. She immigrated to Israel alone at the age of 19. That year, she applied to the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design.
Upon completing her studies, Meridor moved to London, where she spent four years perfecting figurative drawing. After a stint in Italy, she returned to Israel. Meridor is the mother of three and a devout lover of Jerusalem.
Meridor’s exhibition is a big step forward for the already recognized artist. It is her most personal work to date, not only because the images have captured her physical frame but also because they have captured her soul, her dilemmas and her aspirations.
“I want to open the borders between figure and abstract, allowed and forbidden, holy and unholy, personal and vague,” she explains.
There are many provocative nuances to this work, among them that these images were crafted by and feature the female form in prayer, something that largely is considered taboo or off limits. There is also an element in the work that could be seen as touching on idolatry, which is strictly forbidden in Judaism.
“It is my right to research this topic as long as I am asking questions about this, not preaching truths. As I see it, man was created in the image of God and when man prays, he is praying to the highest potential of his being. The highest form of myself is, then, God,” she says.
Meridor goes on to speak of the two cherubs, Mercy and Justice, described by Rambam.
“At the beginning of Judaism, iconography existed as a means of channeling prayer. These cherubs were made to broker the relationship between the beyond and the Jewish people, to let them know that their prayers were being heard. There were two and not one so that no one would think that they were a representation of God. Why did those images exist then and not now?” she says.
To complete the experience, Meridor called on vocal artist Victoria Hanna to compose a soundtrack.
“When the Jewish People received the Torah, it is said that they raised their voices to a great roar. In making this music, Victoria is asking, praying and sounding her voice. What comes out is feminine, soft and comforting,” says the artist.
Together, Meridor’s images and Hanna’s voice merge to create an other-worldly experience for the audience.
‘Imagework’ is on display until November 21 at the Agripas 12 Gallery at 12 Agrippas Street in Jerusalem. For more information, visit www. http://www.agripas12gallery.com.