Ruth Mergi Ketubah Circles Multilayer


With Passover fast approaching, it's a perfect time to introduce our new TRIBES ketubah.

The TRIBES ketubah: 26 layers, 50 cm sq. 2015

Some background: About six months ago, I couldn’t sleep, because I was making art inside my mind.

In particular, I was making these: Spirals.

What was special about these spirals instead of making an actual spiral -- draw it, cut it, pretty straightforward stuff -- these spirals ghosted their way into my consciousness. They emerged.

The actual cut-out shapes here are all circles, but when they are nested just-so and cut from many layers of paper, the spiral form emerges in three dimensions. Magic!

It seemed a poetry, the way simple form expands into space. The way simplicity + repetition = complexity. Elegant, beautiful, and just a bit mysterious.

I knew even before I cut out my test spirals that they would be part of an eventual ketubah design. That night, half-dreaming, I saw a set of twelve spirals, arranged in a circle, like the numbers on a clock.

Twelve is a powerful number, mystical, cosmic. A sublime number, a superfactorial. The kissing number(!!) -- where spheres come together -- in three dimensions. In geometry, triangular threes and square fours intersect in twelves. Circles’ 360 degrees are divided neatly into acutely satisfying 30s.

Twelve months, twelve hours. Twelve spirals seemed right for a ketubah, conveying emergence over time. Commitment. Expansion.

But a funny thing happened, as often does, once an idea gets out of my head and onto paper: I just wasn’t into it. The clock layout left me flat. It wasn’t dynamic enough.

Twelve months, twelve hours. Twelve primary and secondary colors on the color wheel. Twelve signs of the zodiac. Gates of Jerusalem. Gems on the high priest’s breastplate. Twelve --


Perhaps there were a more powerful way to arrange the twelve spirals, twelve moments, dynamically emerging over time. Relationships have power. The way we orient ourselves -- over time -- in relation to others: this has power.

When the Hebrew slaves fled Egypt, when they crossed the Red Sea, they were released from bondage. But freedom was never static. Freedom was a process, which would ultimately lead to the mythological redemption from slavery -- in milk and honey -- in the Promised Land.

And in order to reach the promised land, the people needed power. Meaning. They needed to orient themselves. To relate to one another. The freed tribes of Hebrews wandered the desert, received the Word of God. Freedom is a process.

The biblical book of Numbers describes the encampments of the tribes during the People of Israel’s wanderings in the desert: The twelve tribes camped with the “mishkan,” or tabernacle at center. The tabernacle, the holy shrine, housed the ark of the covenant. It was The Dwelling Place, suffused with God’s presence.

The arrangement had power. Each tribe in its place, in relation to one another, and also to The Dwelling Place. It was a relationship with one another, but also a relationship to The Divine. To presence. To home.

As much as the artwork makes a ketubah sing, the text is its raison d'être. It gives the ketubah its power, as two individuals commit to a lifelong emergence in tandem, to togetherness-over-time.

In order to create a coherent ketubah design from the separate spiral elements, they had to relate properly to one another. They had to relate to their reason for being together at all -- the text. The marriage. The life that lies ahead. Each individual moment of emergence has to transcend its separateness, connect to something greater. Create a home. Relate to the sublime.

Love is what connects us, and our connections free us to ourselves.

On this Passover, let us remember that we were slaves. That we were freed, and that freedom is a process we undertake together. Loving one another. Setting our Most High -- presence, divinity, home, togetherness -- at center. Our individual emergence is magic; a beautifully composed life elevates us further still.

May we be free from bondage, and may we be redeemed in love.

Wishing a HAPPY PASSOVER to all who celebrate!

~ Ruth

P.S. The studio will be CLOSED during the holiday! We'll be available via email, but do expect longer-than-average response times. Thanks for understanding! Have a good one. :)

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