Aug/31 03:00 pm
Gratz College Leona P. Kramer Gallery
7605 Old York Road
Melrose Park PA 19027
Original prints on display in Leona P. Kramer Gallery
Gratz College Leona P. Kramer Gallery
7605 Old York Road
Melrose Park PA 19027
"Job In Our Time"
Etchings by Linda Nesvisky
on exhibition from June 5 - August 31
When I was in high school, I became interested in existentialism. Exposure to the French language, reading Sartre, Rimbaud, Ionesco, and Camus, and American authors such as Thornton Wilder, and Arthur Miller---all caused me to ponder “Life’s Big Questions”. Then I saw “J.B.” by Archibald MacLeish. I read Ecclesiastes, I read Job. I looked at all the extraordinary etchings and drawings by William Blake’s in the Bodleian Library at Oxford University. How amazing, thrilling, and wonderous it was to touch them, with white gloves of course.
Boils! Satan! Destruction! Fantastic descriptions of the universe with its stars and planets! I walked into this subject and never turned away. With this theme, I read the Bible for inspiration, but Blake was my muse.
The Book of Job continues to inspire, challenge and spark my creativity. Indeed, it has done so for philosophers, religious leaders and students, playwrights among others throughout the centuries. Whether the story is true, or a parable, the theme certainly speaks to our modern era with its many existential questions. This is why I named the exhibition “Job in our Time”.
In these two parallel series of twenty images each, I attempt to make them timeless, and nonspecific. For example, “The Family” is a unit, without individual faces. The “Consolation” likewise does not need to be illustrated from the chapter and verse; this is a theme we all experience in our lifetime. “Soreboils” shows a Satan. Is he real, or a figment of Job’s imagination? God is represented looking through binoculars, or as an owl. The written words, in a jumble of fonts I have stylized akin to graffiti “street” art. The etched prints are collated loose leaf from 1 to 20.
The monoprints are one of a kind, sold only as a unit. The etchings can be purchased individually.
About the Artist
Linda Nesvisky studied art and art history at Carnegie Mellon University, Bezalel Art Academy, and the University Of Pittsburgh. Linda and her family lived in Israel between 1971 to 1991. The love of the Hebrew language, and profound appreciation of the total ethnic community where the best gifts she acquired there. In addition, she maintained a municipal art studio in Jerusalem’s Artist’s Lane, outside the Old City walls, and served as tour guide in the Old City Jewish Quarter, living in a restored 13th century home within the Jewish Quarter. Presently she maintains a studio in Melrose Park, and works as a city of Philadelphia tour guide. She felt the need to have tours of Jewish interest, and eleven years ago, Linda began her own company ShalomPhillyTours. Her tour groups have included Hadassah, Ort, JCC, Senior Centers and Sunday school youth groups.
Linda has won many awards both in the field of art, and as a city tour guide. In 2010, her book, Jewish Philadelphia: A Guide to its Sights and Stories (History Press) culminated her keen interest in the Jewish arrival to America.
Prints on exhibition from June 5 - August 31
Mon. through Thurs. 9:00 - 5:00
Fri. 9:00 - 3:00
Sun. - Please call - 215-635-7300
Reflection on "Job In Our Time"
A commentary on “Job In Our Time”
Joseph M. Davis, Ph.D
Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, Gratz College
What strikes me most, when viewing Linda’s extraordinary series of illustrations for the Book of Job, is that in most of her pictures, Job has no face. And that makes sense, because Job is Everyman, Job is all of us. But then in one illustration, close to the end, Job suddenly does have a face. He seems to be looking in a sort of mirror, and he has a face. He is not Everyman. He is Job.
When I was in high school, I believed that social identities were real. That woman over there is my high school English teacher. That man is the bus driver. The man on TV is the president of the US. You might enjoy your social role, or not, or be proud of it, or be ashamed of it, but for better or worse, that is who you are. You are a member of a family, a citizen of a nation. Here’s my passport. That’s who I am, Joey Davis, 175 Freeman Parkway, a sophomore at Classical High School.
Linda’s illustrations make me think that Job believed this too. I mean that he also believed that social identities are real. But then he lost his social identity so utterly that he couldn’t believe it anymore. He lost his job, his family, his home, and his health; and now he is no one. So he has no face. He has no place in society. He is not an English teacher, and he is not a bus driver. Like me, Job believed that social identities are real, and now he has no social identity, so he is no one.
So how does Job become someone again? How does he get his face back? I could imagine various different answers to this question, different ways to interpret the book of Job, but my interpretation, which might be the same as Linda’s or might not be, is that Job learns that character is real.
A lot of people don’t have to learn that, because they always knew it. I mean that even when they were young, they had learned to believe that character is real, that some people are generous, some people are stingy, some people are brave, and some people are funny, and so on. But I didn’t. Quite the opposite – it seemed to me, when I was in high school, that everybody’s character was forever changing. None of my friends were the same as they had been in elementary school; they seemed to change from year to year, practically from one day to the next. Adults were also forever surprising me. I didn’t really have any confidence, I was unsure or unconvinced, that people had stable characters at all. It seemed to me that social roles were stable, or fairly stable, and that they defined who people are pretty well; but that character was a sort of a will-o’-the-wisp.
Job goes through experiences – tragedy, poverty, sickness, a terrifying revelation of God – that test and challenge his character. He comes out the other side, and he discovers that he is still the same person that he was: still generous, still hospitable, and still sarcastic. He is no longer Job the Wealthy, he is now Job the penniless, but he is still Job. He has a face, which he sees for perhaps the first time.
Reflection for “Job in Our Time”
Rev. Linnéa Clark
Pastor, St. John’s Lutheran Church, Elkins Park, PA
Job’s story is a challenging one. His suffering seems unjustified. Calamity after calamity destroys his family, his wealth, even his physical health. His so-called friends argue with him about whether – and why – he really does deserve to suffer. God is silent for most of the book, and when God eventually speaks, God refuses to answer Job’s complaint directly.
Ms. Nesvisky’s work distills Job’s story to its essentials, focusing on the tension between Job’s expressions of suffering and God’s silence. Images of Job’s agony swirl and accelerate. Satan salts Job’s skin with boils as Job twists in pain. Nightmare visions torment Job. He becomes untethered from the world around him as visions of sea monsters, strange beasts, and his friends’ mockery deal blow after blow to his mind. Job is entrapped in a psychological tornado.
Into the chaos and disorder of Job’s personal whirlwind comes the word of God.
No, God does not answer Job’s complaints directly, but something transformative happens anyway. As God speaks, order is restored to Job’s mind and his world. Seven days of creation surround him. Heavenly beings raise their arms in architectural formation as they praise the Creator of the stars. Even Job’s body is reordered, his face revealed for the first time. Under a gesture of divine blessing, the restoration of Job’s life begins.
There are times in our personal and collective lives when we, like Job, demand clarity: a reason for suffering, a proximate cause, a clear and immediate sense of universal justice. It is rare to receive such clarity out of the blue. Instead, we can learn to find a way out of the whirlwind by listening to a range of experiences beyond our own lives. When we have the courage to listen, we find God’s restorative response to Job in the stories of our neighbors, in encounters with people who are different from us, and in the kindness and compassion of strangers. We leave our siloed whirlwinds and find abundant life together.