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VANITY OF VANITIES (nothing new under the sun)

2019, Mixed Media (Calligraphy, Light, Digital Techniques, Collage, Cut Paper), 24x36"


A study of opposites: these artworks bring attention to the escalating dissonance between traditional and contemporary values. Famous for its insistence that all is vanity and futility, Ecclesiastes makes for a stark contrast with images of contemporary attitudes. Brand messaging, reinforced by literature aimed chiefly at women, encourages people to place a value on amassing possessions, achieving fame, worshiping the self or clinging to an illusion of lasting youth and beauty. Reinforcing it all is the religion of distraction, fooling people into a sense of accomplishment and productivity, elevating ultimately meaningless activities, so that people won’t have a moment to pause and evaluate. Treating pets like people, chasing the latest food fads, gluing our attention to a 24 hour news cycle, or even doing violence to our own bodies to hold on to something fleeting-- we’ve been warned against it all yet modern society constructs itself around these practices. 


Hand scripted and cut Hebrew letters, verses from the biblical text of Ecclesiastes, are juxtaposed with imagery from pop culture which is designed to manipulate people into the opposite behavior. Presented on lightbox frames, the glowing artworks exude a transient feel and allow light to pass through in all places but where the calligraphy is placed. The ancient words are the only handmade element, thick with opaque ink, yet they also seem to be peeling off the page. The digital collages each focus on one area of contemporary culture and present the traditional view of them. Which will ultimately stand the test of time?

Vanity of Vanities was a focal point of Lenore’s solo show at Black Diamond Gallery. The work Possessions from this series was published in a book about Ecclesiastes, New Israeli Definitions, published by the Beit Avi Chai Foundation press in 2020. It was also included in 929, a cyclical project of print, television and radio which produces content about each chapter in the Biblical Canon.

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