The Hidden and the Revealed: The Queen Esther Mosaics of Lilian Broca, published by Gefen Books (2011) and edited by Gareth Sirotnik, includes Lilian Broca's stunning mosaics on the theme, as well as a prose poem in the voice of Esther by Rabbi Yosef Wosk, explanations by art historian Sheila Campbell, and a preface by internationally renowned feminist artist Judy Chicago.
Judy Chicago has been both inspirational and insightful for the work of Remember the Women Institute, so her preface makes this book of special interest. She writes: "So how does a woman artist approach, understand, and depict stories like Esther's that definitely embody a 'patriarchal outlook?' She answers her question by referring to Broca's mosaic interpretation of the Esther story as a possible visual midrash, and stating: "[I]f women are to be successfully integrated into the mainstream [of Judaism], they must be able to be not only rabbis and leaders but also, most of all, respected interpreters of Jewish traditions. Thus, it would seem appropriate for Jewish women artists to look at female biblical figures for inspiration and to reinterpret their stories in a contemporary context, as Lilian Broca has done with Esther and, before her, the more controversial figure of Lilith."
Broca writes of her inspiration and describes the process of creating her mosaics. complete with photographs of the mosaics as they are being made. In her chapter she explains her background as a child in Communist Romania, her attraction to the Queen Esther story, how she created the mosaics using classical Byzantine techniques, and the symbolic significance of each work in the series. The full-color illustrations of the mosaics capture their lush and stunningly richness.
Art historian, curator, and archaeologist Sheila Campbell's chapter discusses not only the Broca mosaics but also other depictions of the Queen Esther story in art history. The book concludes with a reproduction of a calligraphied Scroll of Esther in Hebrew, with facing pages in English from The Jewish Publication Society translation.
Because the book is beautiful and large, it could be described as a "coffee table book." However, it also deserves to be read, because it offers readers insights and information about both the process of creation and the Megillat Esther itself.
Hardbound 10" x 12", 190 pages, full color, ISBN 978-965-229-560-6
-- Reviewed by Rochelle G. Saidel
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