Arts and Culture | Local

New art show illuminates a rich legacy

‘Gates of Tsfat,” 36” x 28” photograph, by Lynn Rae Lowe

For more than two decades, Lynn Rae Lowe, an awarding-winning local artist, has strived to empower people through her symbolic work.

“Ancient symbols give us access into the collective unconscious, and through that we can raise up ourselves,” says Lowe.

And the arts can help communities make sense of a world gone haywire, she adds.

Creating art is an education unto itself, says Lowe, but there’s beauty in navigating the tumultuous process. The goal of Lowe’s new exhibit, “Illuminations: Aleph to Tav,” is to display the breadth of Jewish culture as well as begin a conversation within the community.

The show opened at the Tucson Jewish Community Center Fine Arts Gallery on Nov. 23 and will run until Jan. 29. The mixed media exhibit features Lowe’s artistic renderings of the Hebrew alphabet, and will center around 12 sets of Hebrew characters that are reinterpretations of iconic master artists.

While most alphabets are sound oriented, the characters in Hebrew are directly linked to words, says Lowe. “Illuminations” is designed to reflect the “spiritual light” found in the Hebrew alphabet, and exemplify its unique qualities to people of every faith, she explains.

“And I believe the power of this work is the ability to inform people of their potential,” she says.

Since the mid-1990s, Lowe has based her work on bridging cultural gaps and drawing similarities between conflicting viewpoints. Because of the severe cultural and political divide today, she says the international community needs “to learn our own truth so that we can hear others and move forward, and make this world what it should be instead of what it is right now.”

“STA’M Calligraphy,” 18” x 24”, collaboration with a scribe in Ashkelon by Lynn Rae Lowe
“STA’M Calligraphy,” 18” x 24”, collaboration with a scribe in Ashkelon by Lynn Rae Lowe

She chose to reinterpret the work of well-known artists, most of whom were Jewish, “because I wanted to study how Judaism has in some way affected the idea of art, so I took famous people and created alphabets in their style.”

The vast range of artists, and their respective techniques and modes, mirrors the rich nuances the Hebrew language is known for, she explains, especially when considering the influence of the Kabbalah, an ancient Jewish mystical school of thought.

The advantage of reflection is seeing the consistencies in one’s life, says Lowe, and the beauty of her work is steeped in the hope it will inspire the viewer.

Lowe wants her new collection to act as a Zava’ah, or ethical will, designed to pass values along generations, for her grandchildren, and to know that her life’s work left a positive impact.

“To be able to roll up your sleeves and feel that you’ve made a difference in the dialog, conversation and the understanding of what you believe in,” she says, holding back tears, “it’s an amazing gift which I’m very grateful for.”

A grand opening and reception will be held on Sunday, Dec. 4 from 2-4 p.m. in the Tucson J’s Jewish Heritage Room. Lowe will host talks on “Experiencing the Mystical Aleph Bet through Art” at the J on Dec. 7, 14 and 21 from 1-3 p.m.

She will also speak at a Hadassah Southern Arizona lunch on Dec. 11 and a Jewish-Federation Northwest Rosh Chodesh celebration on Dec. 13 (see Community Calendar, p. 24).