Harlan Gallery displays voice of women in Judaism

Harlan Gallery on Seton Hill University’s (SHU) campus housed “To Speak Her Heart” from Sept. 22 to Oct. 20.  The exhibit, created by local Pittsburgh artists Leslie Golomb and Barbara Goldman, was composed of numerous prints, mixed media and installations.

Over a ten-year time period, Golomb and Goldman collaborated on this project to portray the struggle of Jewish women having a metaphorical voice in their own faith through devotional prayers and poems.

“….What inspired the collaboration was just friendly chatter while teaching Leslie [Golomb] bookbinding styles. Our interests so often overlapping, we just fell on this subject and found the need to run with it. We work together very well, we share a lot of interests, so collaborating was a natural for us,” said Goldman.

Originally created as an illustrated anthology, the exhibition highlights images from “To Speak Her Heart”. The overall goal of the anthology was to explore Jewish women’s devotionals and analyze how their voices came to be heard through a history of personalized Judaism.

Golomb said, “It was great fun collaborating with Barbara on the project. We each bring a unique perspective, which made for a much more interesting endeavor than if it was created by one artist. Also, artists tend to work in isolation and the collaboration allowed us to grow as artists because we each challenged each other on decisions concerning content and aesthetics.”

Each artist had more specific reasons for wanting to create the exhibit. Golomb’s motivation spanned from a desire to better know her Jewish sisters and the times and places in which they lived.

“Much of my artwork is an investigation of women’s struggle to find a voice in a patriarchal society,” she said.

Goldman, on the other hand, wanted to explore her own artistic identity through color, narrative and iconography “at first for the book that goes with this exhibit, then recreating my images to 2 and 3 dimensional pieces.”

On a deeper level, both women were interested in expressing an appreciation for the spirituality of Jewish women and their history.

Putting “To Speak Her Heart” on display at SHU was an added bonus in Golomb’s eyes.

“I have been invited to show my work at the Harlan Gallery numerous times throughout my career, for which I am very grateful. Seton Hill personifies a very special place of higher education that has encouraged young women to seek their rightful place in society. I am always inspired by the young women and now young men whom I have met on campus,” said Golomb.

Golomb also expressed an appreciation for the exhibit being displayed at a Catholic institution. “Though the illustrations are based on words written by Jewish women, the sentiments are universal.”

Goldman shared the same enthusiasm for the display at SHU, though for slightly different reasons. “Always looking to challenge my expressions through new methods of printmaking, I found working on the computer was very thought-provoking and exciting.”

Sean Smith, a sophomore employee of Harlan Gallery, enjoyed having “To Speak Her Heart” displayed because of its unique style.

“I’d say that this recent exhibit differs from others I’ve seen in the way the artists took old photographs and juxtaposed them onto their artwork. It’s sort of like scrap-booking in a way, if the people in the photos had the opportunity to do this,” said Smith.

Further information on artist Golomb and the “To Speak Her Heart” anthology can be found at www.lesliegolomb.com.

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