It's Not Only White
Tree of Life by Sharona Lomberg
I remember the first time I was introduced to painting- painting on silk. It was an intimidating experience. I was gifted a course in silk painting. When I went to one of the stations designated for the students, I saw a beautiful white and shimmering silk fabric stretched tight to a frame. It was so tight, I could probably jump on it and I’d bounce.
When you paint on silk you use dyes, and I had to choose the colors I wanted any colors, any combination, endless variation, and options.
So, here I am not only intimidated but feeling I’m committing a sin. I’m going to ruin and stain practically killing that pure piece of silk. If only all those silkworms knew what I’m going to do to that beautiful fabric they worked hours to create- oy!
I don’t remember the outcome of that piece. It probably was too traumatic to remember. But that day was the first step of my journey as an artist, which at that time if you could open a window to the future to show me my future; I would truly believe it was the wrong window.
Painting on silk basically fell into my lap… or maybe it was a bashert?
My friends are the ones who encouraged me to continue painting; they suggested that to combine being Israeli and coming from a Yemenite background would be a perfect match.
And again, a white blank piece of silk. What do I make? What do I create? I’m not a trained artist, and I never expressed my thought in a visual form.
But I did know it must have a depth to it. Painting flowers in different colors are beautiful and there are beautiful and pretty pieces.
I designed and made a few Challah covers and called a Judaica store in Toronto, Canada where I lived at that time. I’m excited and scared… my first meeting. The store was more of a beautiful Judaica gallery, with creative Judaica artifacts from all over the world. From a business point of view, the lady owner liked my Challah covers for her store. However, she realized I was a “baby artist” and opened her heart to help me. She asked me the prices of the pieces, and being embarrassed I said “I don’t know, you tell me” She was so kind and understood where I’m coming from. She bought my designs and kept buying them. I wish I could meet her again and thank her. Who knows she might be reading this. The gallery was on Bathurst and Eglinton in Toronto.
And, that was my beginning of opening myself and sharing my artwork with others. When you are the artist who also has to market the art, it’s tricky. You can’t really brag about yourself, and a NO is taken as a personal insult.
Then the Tallitot arrived. Making Tallitot was very different than Challah/Matzah covers. With the Tallitot I felt I wanted the wearers to choose my Tallit because it appeals to their taste and sense of beauty. I hoped that it’s also the “something more” I tried to convey, which I hope I succeeded.
It’s hard enough to express your thoughts and emotions by writing, let alone convey it in a painting.
So, now what do I do?
I decided to rely on my mind and my heart and use the different concepts I feel close too. For example, my Tallit called “Women's Deeds”. That Tallit depicts the only three deeds women are required to fulfill: lighting Shabbat candles, making a Challah, and doing the ritual of the Mikvah.
I chose to depict the candles as a flame in the center of the Tallit surrounded by wheat strands circulating the flame and a big wave to symbolize the ocean, the most natural place to purify one’s self.
Women's Deeds by Sharona Lomberg
Another Tallit “Opening of the Sea”. This one represents the opening of the sea depicting two big waves facing each other as if they were parted. And in the middle ascending are the 10 Spheres of the Tree of Life diagram. The bottom one is called in Hebrew Malchut which means kingdom, where we are now, starting the journey. The Opening of the Sea represents our physical journey to freedom while the Tree of Life represents our spiritual journey. They represent one’s personal journey and the collective one as one people.
These are 2 designs from several that will be offered to you soon.
Opening of the Sea by Sharona Lomberg
That was 30 yrs. ago. A generation ago!
“Beaming” me 30yrs. later to Hawaii in the year 2016, 6 months after I lost both my parents. I was sitting at home on our lanai (porch in Hawaiian) staring at nothing letting my thoughts drift. Suddenly, with no warning, it came to me. It just happened. I don’t know if it ever happened to you but it was magical, a burst of energy, clarity, vision, and direction.
Why? Where did it come from? I didn’t know. I still don’t know, but I have my suspicions. I believe I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, that it’s my purpose and my personal journey. Regardless, deep deep inside my soul, I know my parents were there. I don’t know whether it was them guiding me, showing me what I needed to know, or maybe it was my personal search and digging deep enough I went to a secure place in my life- my parents.
Regardless, I got the message.
At that moment I stood up and told my husband Jon, as I describe him “my spine” I declared “I’m going to make Tallitot, but this time I want to make sure they are going to be available to whoever wants to have one”
When you hand paint every Tallit, there is only so much you can produce, and I wanted to make sure it’s available to all.
At that moment, and I mean at that moment I sat down and starting drawing on my kitchen counter. And I didn’t stop for weeks. Ideas, letters, Gematria of words, concepts, connections between words; it’s a new different ways of expression this time. A different awareness.
It feels as if I made a full circle with my purpose. I started in my twenties and came back a generation later in my fifties. A very special and wise woman always expressed her motto and purpose is “enriching people's lives”. It was as if it was written for me.
It is my promise to continue striving to keep doing that.
Looking at life generally, Jewish people who lack the connection or ties to Judaism these days in any form, whether historical, religious, spiritual are missing something, each person for their own reason.
I feel my contribution is my vision to connect between the people and their roots in any way and form. My intention is to connect, to create a spark that would help to strengthen their affinity to Judaism. It’s not about being religious per se, it’s the importance of keeping the “chain” alive, the more of a connection, the stronger the chain of our existence.I find Judaism so fulfilling, and I feel there are so many ways individuals can express themselves, still, my part is through my “physical” language, offering the physical thing you can hold, feel, connect and take with you anywhere, and/or pass it on.
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