Updated: Feb 14, 2022
In a world where many of us have a tendency to focus on ourselves, our religion, and our beliefs, would we perhaps see the world differently if we took a step back and instead focused on what we have in common? If we did that, would we treat each other differently?
When Covid first hit I found my creativity stifled. A student of mine created a stained-glass mosaic Hamsa, a symbol used in Judaism that is known to bring its owner happiness, luck, and good fortune while providing protection against evil forces. Inspired by her, I decided I would like to make one too. What started as a simple piece ended up symbolizing much of what I was feeling and thinking as it was being created.
When my late husband, Larry, and I went to Israel, we studied Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism. We met with an artist who taught us how many of the symbols and beliefs used in Kabbalah are shared by many different religions and cultures throughout the world. For example, just about every country in the world, and most religions, have used a version of a Hamsa, including Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity. A Hamsa is also called the Hand of Miriam, Hand of God, or Fatima Hand named for Muhammed’s daughter, Fatima.
I wanted my Hamsa to focus on our commonalities, so I began with an eye which is often called the window to our soul. I used the shape and color of my eye as I was looking deep within myself as I created Eye Persist. The center of the eye, is made out of a mirror, because I want the viewer of the piece to reflect, too. In a world often divided, can we be kinder or do more to bring people together? Around the eye is a heart, a universal symbol of love. A heart is also embedded inside each of us and can include self-love, love of others, love of pets and animals, and a love for Mother Earth. I put my heart into creating this piece.
The Tree of Life is another universal symbol found in many different religions, mythology, and folklore, often connecting the physical and spiritual worlds. Some believe it symbolizes wisdom, strength, protection, fertility, abundance, beauty, immortality, and redemption. Inside the Hamsa, there are two cherry trees symbolizing the love between myself and Larry. The trees are individual yet touch each other, just as his life touched mine. The trees have roots, which symbolize our children and grandchildren. I have always liked weeping cherry trees. Years ago, my sister offered to buy me one for my birthday. I went to a nursery and told the employee I wanted a weeping cherry tree. He took me to a cherry tree and when I said it didn’t look like a weeping cherry, he told me it takes a few years for them to weep. I believed him and planted the new tree in the yard. Year after year, the tree grew bigger and taller. And it definitely did not weep. I would go outside, stand by the tree and be mad at it. The tree didn’t care that I was mad and kept growing and blooming. Year after year, it grew stronger and more beautiful. One spring, when the tree was in full bloom, I looked up at it and saw its beauty. It was not the tree’s fault that it was not a weeping cherry. It was not made to weep. I accepted, loved, and appreciated that tree for what it was - a tall, beautiful, and proud cherry tree. Just as the tree grows, so do we. We strive for greater knowledge, wisdom and understanding of ourselves and each other.
The butterfly symbolizes my ancestors and loved ones who have passed on. My grandmother, who always loved butterflies, gave me a hand-painted lamp and green wine glasses, which broke. I saved some of the glass and incorporated bits of the green glass into the tree of life. The lessons she and others have taught me live deep within my soul. The yellow butterflies are made from pieces saved from the broken lamp. No doubt, what may seem broken can still be meaningful and beautiful.
Eye Persist is the final piece in my She Persists series. The purple in the butterfly is created from the same purple used in the She Persists: Power of Knowledge. *
The hummingbird represents me. From the time I was a child until Larry passed on, I have lived with other people. For the first time in my life, I live alone and I'm fine. I have found my wings and I fly freely.
I take my nourishment from my spirituality, the love of those who have come before me, my friends, and my family. I want to leave the world a better place for those who come when I am gone.
Frame made from reclaimed barn wood by Bobby of BZ Woodcraft