Kiln-fired and cold-worked glass, etched cover, hand-dyed linen coptic-bound artist’s book. CD containing sound piece is pocketed inside lid. Container: foam, wool-blend felt, thread, 11 x 9 x 6 inches, Book unpacked: 7.75 x 6 x 3 inches, Last of an edition of 5. $2000
I attended services and recorded the sound of pages turning in Berlin, Germany’s twelve existing synagogues, to honor and document the quiet perseverance and inner strength that I witnessed amongst the present-day, resurgent Jewish community. As a visitor, I experienced the warmest welcome, discovering a community that values life and togetherness, more than any other group I have ever witnessed.
Glass book. I chose to make a book that cannot be burned and demands respect in handling. The material also references Kristallnacht, “the night of broken glass,” occurring September 9-10, 1938. The amount of glass destroyed on Jewish property on this night was equal to the amount of glass that Belgium (then Germany’s glass supplier) could produce in six months. Accordingly, all the blue glass used in the piece is from Brussels. The position of the blue dot on each page corresponds to the location of each synagogue in relation to the other eleven synagogues, as they would fall on a map of Berlin. The imagery on the cover is that of the restored stained glass windows of Berlin’s Oranienburger Synagogue.
Sound piece. From collected audio (mentioned in first sentence), I edited a composition reflecting the dynamics (growth) of Berlin’s Jewish community post-WWII. A CD is pocketed on the inside lid of the book’s container.
I address concepts that I hope hold secular meaning as well, in a world where violence is often the first response to any challenge. I aim to honor the strength in non-violent actions of quiet, steadfast persistence.
In her work, Becky Slemmons searches for truths that are common throughout multiple cultures. She works in the disciplines of drawing, painting, book arts, video, performance, fibers, glass and sound. She obtained her BFA in drawing and painting from the University of Michigan and her MFA from MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art), Mt. Royal School of Art.
Slemmons has shown work in Berlin, Germany; Seoul, Korea; Portland, OR; Baltimore, MD; Washington, DC and Pittsburgh, PA. She has spoken about her own work in conjunction with an exhibition of Jeffrey Vallance’s work at the Andy Warhol Museum.
Becky Slemmons was awarded a Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center Collaborative Fellowship Residency and a Heinz endowment to attend Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA). She has served two artist residencies in Germany and one in Estonia, among others.
She has held adjunct professorships at MICA, University of Pittsburgh, and as an instructor in Carnegie Mellon University’s pre-college program.