“A poem is like a lullaby that you sing in order to calm yourself.”
A Light By The Window, an exhibition and book launch of The Amichai Windows by artist Rick Black, will be held from 1 – 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 18th, at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center in Hyattsville, MD.
A bilingual Hebrew/English artist book that was 10 years in the making, The Amichai Windows features 18 poems by renown Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai. The exhibition will display letterpressed spreads and prints from the book, including multi-layered collages of more than 100 images from archives around the world, replicas of Amichai’s original poems and much more.
Helen Frederick and Judith K. Brodsky, each a leading artist, printmaker and arts advocate, will be on hand to discuss Black’s book, the connection between art and poetry, and the place of limited editions today.
The exhibition will be up from February 15th to February 21st. For more information, please see www.pyramidatlanticartcenter.org
Free admission with light refreshments.
Over the past couple of months, I have been busy finishing up and putting the final touches on The Amichai Windows. Here is a medley of pictures to give you a sense of how my artist book is coming together. . . !
Original copy of Amichai’s poem, “Yom Kippur.” Reproduced courtesy of Hana Amichai from the archives of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.
Yehuda Amichai frequently argues with God in his poems.
Raised in an Orthodox household, Amichai stopped practicing when he became a teenager — much to the dismay of his father. They argued about God and Jewish ritual practice for years. In fact, Amichai continued to argue with him long after his father died.
When I had the idea of working with a papercut artist on The Amichai Windows, I never thought that I would end up working with the papercut artist who did the ketubah (Jewish marriage contract) when my wife and I got married years earlier. Continue reading
Rick by Pyramid Atlantic
At long last, I have finished printing the poems for The Amichai Windows !
It is a real milestone. I have been at work for the last three months, mostly ignoring the rest of my life — exercising, gardening, reading, writing, socializing, etc.
Recently, my brother — Bruce Black — accompanied me to Pyramid Atlantic, took some photos and made a short video of me at work on one of the last poems that I did, My Son Is Drafted. Continue reading
The Amichai Windows has a total of 18 poems. A cross section of poems from Amichai’s ouevre, they’re equally divided between love, war and being a Jew in the 20th century, both in the Diaspora and in Israel. Continue reading
Pyramid Atlantic Letterpress Studio
Letterpress is a type of ‘relief” printing of text and images that is primarily used today for art and wedding invitations, birth announcements and other special occasions. It is done on a cylinder or platen press where a reversed and raised surface is inked and then literally imprinted into the paper itself.
The decision to use letterpress for The Amichai Windows had to do with making the words an integral part of the paper itself. I am also using various plates of images to lend the spreads texture — the outline of a Jerusalem window or a dove or a clock — and to emphasize certain words and letters. Continue reading
Watching one of the digital prints emerge from my Epson printer. Photo by Mellie Black
I have made the first handful of digital prints of The Amichai Windows. It’s quite exciting — it has only taken eight years or more to get to this point.
As I move along, I am finalizing design elements, adjusting image placements and colors.
The good news is that I found a place nearby, CSI, which prints exhibitions for the museums in Washington, D.C., that is helping me cut down the paper. The Japanese washi paper that I’ll be using for the poems comes in large sheets that are about 23 x 33 inches. Continue reading
Caves at the Dead Sea where the Dead Sea scrolls were found.
“From his earliest poems, archeology has been a primary source of metaphors for Amichai’s perception of the human condition,” wrote Robert Alter, a Hebrew translator and literary scholar, in a New York Times magazine article in 1986. “He sees both the self and history as an elaborate depositing of layers in which nothing is ever entirely buried from sight, in which the earliest strata uncannily obtrude upon the latest.” Continue reading
A couple of new books have recently come out about Yehuda Amichai.
First, the publication of Robert Alter’s new book, The Poetry of Yehuda Amichai, is a compilation of a variety of previous translations as well as many poems that have never been translated into English before. Alter, who is the preeminent Hebrew literature translator and critic, has done a fine job assembling all of the poems together in one volume, old and new. Plus, he has added an informative introduction that places Amichai’s work in the context of modern poetry and contemporary Hebrew literature. Continue reading