Feminine gems

“Beyond Rubies” opened at the Agrippas 12 Gallery on April 9.

A kneeling Esther (photo credit: RUTH SCHREIBER)
A kneeling Esther
(photo credit: RUTH SCHREIBER)
 "For her price is far beyond rubies.” Inspired by these words from Proverbs 31:10, London- born artist Ruth Schreiber orchestrated a multimedia collection of artwork exploring the roots of the feminine image in the Bible.
“Beyond Rubies” opened at the Agrippas 12 Gallery on April 9.
“We have a lot of powerful women in our traditions and I wanted to shine a light on them,” Schreiber explains. “This particular song from Proverbs does exactly that.”
The exhibition includes a series of photographs recreating stories of women from the Bible, a video installation titled 600,000 of the Exodus from Egypt, and a reproduction of Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam. All these works investigate the role of women in history and culture, offering an interpretation of them as symbols of bravery.
“I’m shining a light on all the females in Judaism that haven’t always had enough of a space,” Schreiber remarks.
At first glance, Schreiber’s recreation of The Creation of Adam looks right; Adam, the angels, and the delicate hands reaching toward one another. A second look, however, shows that God is a woman.
“If God is creating man and woman in his own image, then he can also be man and woman,” Schreiber explains as the idea behind her recreation of Michelangelo’s famed painting. Taken from Genesis 1:27, Schreiber alludes to the Shechina – the perceived female attribute to God in Jewish tradition.
“We usually talk about God as “He,” but we know from the Torah that God has a female side,” Schreiber explains.
The exhibit’s reexamination of various aspects of the Bible aims to transcend the gender binary, giving a new perspective to less-known biblical stories. To effectively do so, she employs an array of media.
“Each work comes from a different place,” she says.
With a background as a sculptor, Schreiber has pushed herself to step out of the realm of ceramics, constantly challenging and inspiring herself.
“I don’t want to be limited by what I can do on my own. I’m also not interested in repeating myself, so in fact I make life quite difficult for myself. I’m always using new media that I’m not an expert or master in.”
Confidently, she goes on explain how she is able to showcase such a wide array of work.
“I get help if I can’t do it on my own… there are a lot of great people here with great skills; I’m happy to find people to work with.” Schreiber collaborated with artists seasoned in Photoshop, graphic design and animation to give her ideas the best platform possible.
Schreiber comes from an impressive background in art, including a degree in art history from the University of London and Stanford University, as well as a master’s in fine arts from Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. In addition, she currently serves as a docent at the Israel Museum.
“My knowledge is being enriched and challenged all the time… my Judaism is very important to me and I like to explore it in a fresh way. It’s just doing what comes naturally,” Schreiber explains.
The intersection between her interests in art, Judaism and women’s studies is evident in the creation of Beyond Rubies, where you can see the large amount of research she undertook when picking biblical stories and figuring the best way to recreate them.
In addition to Beyond Rubies, she currently has a project titled “Letters from My Grandparents” on display at the Ghetto Museum in the Czech Republic and the Anne Frank Center in New York City. It will debut at the Gershman Y culture center in Philadelphia in January.
Schreiber is also currently working on expanding on the collection of 10 photos displayed in Beyond Rubies. 
“Beyond Rubies” will be on display until May 7 at the Agrippas 12 Gallery: Monday-Thursday, 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.; and Friday and holiday eve, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Entrance to the gallery is one floor up from Even Yisrael Square. More information on Ruth Schreiber and the Agrippas 12 Gallery: www.agripas12gallery.com/.