In the words of Abraham Joshua Heschel, “You have suspended the trivialities of thinking that stultify unique learning experiences. You have a passionate regard for the marvel that is everywhere!” So wrote Sue Cohen, president of the Beth Shalom Temple Center Sisterhood, in a thank you card presented to Beth Surdut at a talk in conjunction with her “Listening to Raven” solo exhibit of drawings and true stories. The show, open to the public, roosts at Beth Shalom Temple Center Gallery in Green Valley through February 25, 2023.
When Raven called illustrator and author Beth Surdut to the high desert of New Mexico in 2008, she began a journey of science and spirit with a raucous feathered guide. Together, they became touchstones for stories as big as the West and as small as a moment. Surdut, who is also a designer of custom tallit and healing scarves, moved to Tucson in 2015, prompted in part by “Listening to Raven” being chosen as the winner of the 2013 Tucson Festival of Books Literary Award for Nonfiction, as well as gaining her first tallit client in Tucson.
With ravens as the catalyst, the essays, true encounters, and intricate drawings in “Listening to Raven” spark people to tell their personal stories of delight and loss, revealing an unexpected depth of connection with these iconic birds that fly through time and territory. If you have experienced an encounter with a raven, Surdut is eager to hear your story. Please contact her via bethsurdut.com.
What began with a raven led to researching the local wildlife around her home in Tucson, creating the ongoing illustrated “Art of Paying Attention” nature series that can be heard and seen on AZPM/NPR, and becoming a certified Environmental Educator. Local critters and stories will be featured in “After the Fire”, a solo exhibit at Agua Caliente Park Gallery March 1- April 16. “If you practice the art of paying attention, you will find that grand adventures await you right outside your door,” says Ms. Surdut. “Once you start looking, it is hard to stop. From my perspective, paying attention brings care, care brings love; and love engenders protection.”