Arts and Culture | Local

Hebrew calligraphy adorns Tucsonan’s art

Garden of Eden bowl - cut paper collage by Carolee Asia
Garden of Eden bowl – cut paper collage by Carolee Asia

Tucsonan Carolee Asia will be the featured artist at the Tohono Chul Park Welcome Gallery Nov. 14 through Feb. 15.

In her colorful cut paper collages, “I enjoy the play of images on all kinds of structures such as cubes and vases, platters and gourds,” Asia says in her artist’s statement. “The compositions are originally suggested by the size and shape of the basic shapes I find, and the color palette comes together as if the medium was paint.”

The collages resemble tile work or ceramics due to a final application of a heavy resin varnish.

Many of her pieces incorporate Hebrew calligraphy.

“As a calligrapher and collage artist, working with paper cut outs naturally lead me to compositions with cutout letters. And the Hebrew alphabet, with its curves and angles is ideal for use with the medium,” she explains.

“It has been said that Hebrew letters have an innate power all their own with each one containing a unique sense of proportion and meaning. No wonder this ancient alphabet is a treasure trove for  both the calligrapher and the collage artist.”

Her texts come from a variety of sources.

“The line on the Wisdom Orb is from one of the songs sung during the Sabbath lunch, D’ror Yikra (‘God Will Proclaim Freedom’). The line’s translation is: ‘Know Wisdom That Your Soul May Live.’

“The Garden of Eden bowl and platters display a line from the Fifth Blessing (one of seven Sheva B’rachot) sung at a Jewish wedding. ‘Grant perfect joy to these loving companions, as You did to the first man and woman in the Garden of Eden.’

“The designs,” she says, “reflect on the beauty of this first garden and are inspired by the sunflower.”

Asia’s influences are eclectic and include the English Arts and Crafts movement, 19th century Japanese decorative arts and Ukiyo-e printmaking, illuminated medieval manuscripts, European portraiture and photography, and traditional folk art forms from around the world. She holds a B.A. in illustration and design from Hampshire College and a master’s degree in museum studies from George Washington University, with continued studies in art history and the decorative arts through the certification course in connoisseurship at Christie’s Auction House, London.

Tohono Chul Park is located at 7366 N. Paseo del Norte. For more information, call 742-6455 or visit