Jacqueline Nicholls' Torah Cover for Storahtelling

Jacqueline Nicholls was commissioned to make a Torah cover for Storahtelling, a New York based innovative Jewish education and performance company. It became an extension of her series of artwork 'Maternal Torah.' 

The act of putting on the sefer torah cover is called ʻdressing the Torah,ʼ and so it follows that to remove it is an act of undressing and revealing.

This sefer torah cover for Storahtelling builds on ʻThe ʻMaternal Torah – Torat Imechaʼ that combine elements of a traditional sefer torah cover, with a womanʼs corset. Torah is often described in traditional learning circles as a feminine object. The Torah is held, kissed, even symbolically married to. The corset seems to be a perfect metaphor for Torah, it gives shape, support, and constrains.

Storahtelling, a NY based company that reinterprets communal prayer experiences, reveals the Torah, interpretation as a going through layers, to get to the heart of the text, while acknowledging and admiring each layer yet knowing that one can always go deeper, expanding it further...

This Torah cover concept perfectly fits Storahtelling's unique way of opening up and revealing the depths of the Torah to new audiences, layer by layer."

The new Torah dress includes four layers of straps, emulating the four mystical methods for uncovering the secrets of Torah, as well as the first ten Hebrew letters, representing the ten commandments.

Storahtelling will use the Torah scroll, in its new garb, for its upcoming High Holidays services, future B-Mitzvah celebrations and ritual events.

"There are always a lot of really well dressed people at our services", said Michael Dorf, City Winery's Principal and a board member of Storahtelling, "but I suspect that this year - the best dressed award goes to the Torah."

This Sefer Torah Dress focuses on the image of the cleavage and the act of undressing. At the front the cover has four straps, to be unfastened as part of the ritual of undressing the Torah. The four straps resonate with the four different parts of PaRDeS (Pashat, Remez, Drash and Sod), the four ways that text can be explored and interpreted. This cover reflects on how clothing reveals and conceals in layers of depth just as the text must first be revealed at its basic level and is only understood when delved in through a process of exploration.

Photographs of the design development and construction on Nicholls' website http://www.jacquelinenicholls.com/commissions.html

No comments:

Post a Comment