Art review: 'Except for the Sound of My Voice' at FrameHouse & Jask Gallery
Leslie Golomb, 'A Prodigy of the Cello'
Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, 8:33 p.m.
Updated 2 hours ago
One of the few carry-over exhibits from last year worth seeking out is “Except for the Sound of My Voice,” on display at FrameHouse & Jask Gallery at the Ice House in Lawrenceville.
Featuring 19 painstakingly executed works by Leslie Golomb of Squirrel Hill, the exhibit's dreamlike imagery blurs the line between fantasy and reality. Much of it takes the form of photogravures, which are both a print and a photograph. By its very nature, it exists somewhere between the real and the imagined.
Golomb is one of fewer than 100 printmakers around the globe employing the technique of photogravure, which is an intaglio printmaking or photo-mechanical process that coats a copper plate with a light-sensitive gelatin tissue that has been exposed to a film positive and then etched, resulting in a high-quality intaglio print that can reproduce the details and tones of a photograph.
The earliest forms of photogravure were developed in the 1830s by the original pioneers of photography, William Henry Fox Talbot in England and Joseph Nicephore Niepce in France. They created photographic images on plates that could be etched. The etched plates could then be printed using a traditional printing press.
American photographer Alfred Stieglitz is best known for photogravure in the early 20th century. By then, the speed and convenience of silver-gelatin photography had all but displaced photogravure. Because of its arduous process, only several dozen workshops throughout the world still practice the art.
Golomb's series is composed of staged photography juxtaposed with drawn and imaginary characters. The emphasis is on the mythical, says the artist, diverging drastically from past works. “My current artistic endeavors strive not to revisit but to revisualize time,” she says.
Nearly each piece in the series depicts a young girl, Shira Burcat, Golomb's niece and a creative soul herself, a gifted writer.
The source of inspiration for these images was Burcat's poem “A Reflection Paper,” in which the writer turns the act of writing poetry back on itself. It's a delirious composition on introspection and, I suggest, much worth reading before delving into the imagery.
Burcat's words are a perfect match for the alchemic qualities in Golomb's prints. Here, the artist has transformed the photographs that began with Burcat playing with a hula hoop into a dreamy sequence enhanced by grainy, contoured lines and hand-drawn elements, adding a sense of mystery.
The show's namesake, a print of the same title, is the first visitors will encounter, and undoubtedly a signature work that exemplifies Golomb's ability to transcend the mechanical and plastic through gestural mark making.
In it, Burcat is seen with her body arched back as she twirls a hula hoop over her head. All around her, Golumb has filled in space with mists and markings that completely envelop her in an ethereal ooze, while faint images of Indonesian shadow puppets lurk watchfully in the background.
In “A Prodigy of the Cello,” Burcat is seen with three hula hoops wrapped around her hunched-over body. Golumb took advantage of the stance, by working in the shape of a cello on the plate, which brought forth an entirely different narrative.
“She looked like she should be holding something,” Golomb says. “It's been said that the cello is the instrument that's closest to the human voice. So, I decided to add it.”
Next to that image, Golomb has printed a second plate, which overlaps it. It is filled with gestural scrawls she drew directly on the plate.
“I like the idea of doing two plates on one sheet, which I hadn't done before,” Golomb says. “I'm trying to get more playful with it than create static imagery.”
In this way, Golomb is able to introduce an element of playfulness, as well as create a sense of movement.
Golomb incorporates two prints on one sheet again with “They Sound a Lot Like the Sounds I Hear in the Churches and the Prisons” but here, she combines a copperplate photogravure of Burcat twirling hula hoops with a silkscreen element featuring a lineup of Balinese puppets.
“The puppets represent her alter ego, telling her what to do,” Golomb says. “There is always somebody or something there telling you what to do, but, in this case, she's leading them.”
Not far away hang seven large wood-cut prints by Li Kang, a Chinese national and friend of the artist.
Golomb met Kang last year, as a participant exhibitor at the China Printmaking Museum in Hangzhou, China.
Kang's intricate wood etchings feature pastoral themes depicted in dramatic black-and-white.
Like Golomb's work, Kang's etching and wood-carving process is painstaking. The high level of detail is staggering.
Especially when considering large-scale works such as “An Intoxicated Night With Summer Heat,” which features an owl in flight under street lights. An exercise in high contrast, the eye is drawn to the owl, and the intricate detail with which the artist has captured the magnificent nocturnal bird.
“White Night, Summer Arriving” is just as alarmingly detailed, featuring a precarious wooden ladder propped against a gnarled and twisted tree branch. A lone bird patrols the perimeter, and, in the distance, open fields of reeds meet the sky. The image is one of solitude, inviting imagined narratives of loss and loneliness.
Kurt Shaw is the Tribune-Review art critic. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Framehouse/Jask Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA: Except for the Sound of My Voice, Copperplate photogravures by Leslie A. Golomb Also Selections from Weilding the Knife by Li Kang
Introduction: Except for the Sound of my Voice by Melissa Hiller (see below)
EXCEPT FOR THE SOUND OF MY VOICE
A romping, hula-hooping free spirit is the primary subject of Leslie Golomb’s latest series of photogravures, Except for the Sound of My Voice. The images, which start with photographs of her niece, Shira Burcat—a creative soul and gifted writer—conjure youth and vibrancy. This intoxicating character playfully sways and shimmies with her hoop, sometimes wielding two or three at a time, while faint images of Indonesian shadow puppets lurk watchfully in the background. Transforming the photographs into the meticulous age-old copper photogravure technique allows an overall dreamy essence that is enhanced by their noir-like, smoky silhouettes. Grainy contoured lines and hand-drawn elements add to the mysterious vibe.
Golomb categorizes her work as belonging to a series. She sees each image building upon the others; each object stands alone as an independent work of art, yet together they create visual narrations that flow to tell a complete visual story. Her series, which frequently tackle heady material, are often depictions stemming from her careful research into complex and harsh events from history or paradoxical cultural conditions that have had punitive impact on women.
A stimulating, yet related, departure from her history-driven inquiries, Except for the Sound of My Voice is influenced by the writing of the masterful Susan Sontag and Burcat’s creative fiction that plumbs the depths of fantasy and the unclas- sifiable illogic of internal discourse. Literary sources, whether in historic, memoir, or biographical form, almost always play an important role for Golomb. Here, she connects the relationship between the shadow puppets and the female figure to Sontag’s suggestion that “each of us carries a room within ourselves, waiting to be furnished and peopled, and if you listen closely, you may need to silence everything else in your own room, and only then can you hear the sounds of that other room inside your head.”1 The shadow puppets equate to the secret room—or alter ego—of the hula-hooping character. Bringing these abstract ideas into focus, when I met with Golomb in her studio, she explained that how American millennials think about identity, selfhood and gender is the conceptual terrain underlying the series that she is especially tapping into.
On one hand, many who are coming of age in this generation view gender as being fluid and open-ended rather than fixed. They prioritize and expect equal rights in every area of life. The Supreme Court ruling that defends the constitu- tionality of same-sex marriage couldn’t have happened at any other time in history. On the other hand, it’s shocking that Senator Elizabeth Warren recently had to defend the existence of Planned Parenthood to members of congress because they wish to defund it. Yahoo CEO Melissa Meyer and Pakistani education reformer Malala Yousafza, two globally re- nowned women and leaders, vehemently avoid associations with the word feminism. The term is actually the F-word to millennials, who generally view it as spewing tyrannical dogma about hating men.
These concepts, the outcome of postmodern life and three waves of feminism, are particularly confounding and uniquely contradictory right now, and importantly, Golomb’s content taps into, but isn’t blatantly about, identity or gender poli- tics. Rather, those subjects represent the connective tissue to what she’s really interested in, which is reflecting on how women think through, navigate and express being female in the cultural climate they live in. Golomb’s intent focus on the youthful protagonist provides the lens through which to visualize this complicated inner world.
The evocative title of the series, derived from Burcat’s writing, particularly alludes to Golomb’s interests in exploring the role of personal narrative, storytelling and imagination in dealing with vexing social incongruities. While these ideas are perhaps explored more subtly in Except for the Sound of My Voice, self-expression, writing and negotiating the thoughts and feelings of the inner self is central in another series, To Flow as the Wind.
This series of photogravures, conceived during Golomb’s 2012 residency at the China Guanlan Printmaking Base, con- templates a little-known practice of Chinese women from the Hunan province. From the late nineteenth through the mid- twentieth century, women who were coerced into arranged marriages and relegated to confinement by their bound feet were able to maintain life-long relationships with each other by communicating via the language of Nushu. Used exclusively by women and therefore deemed inconsequential, this secret language enabled them to share their uncensored feelings with one another. They exchanged their correspondence in poems they embroidered on cloth and fans. Considering they lived in a cultural environment where women were constrained, marginalized and exploited it is not surprising their writing largely expressed fear, isolation and sadness. To Flow as the Wind exposes a practically unknown historical footnote, show- ing how a subculture of women adopted language and creativity to manage and cope with their circumstances.
Authoring narrative, asserting identity using creative means and traversing the distinct obstacles imposed by prevailing culture ties the two series together and summons Sontag’s illustrative proposition regarding how to go about assigning one’s voice. This is exactly the territory that Golomb most successfully mines, and both series are visually provocative, exceptionally vivid and expertly rendered.
—Melissa Hiller, 2015
Melissa Hiller is the director of the American Jewish Museum of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, where she organized the exhibitions This Is Not A Dream; A Painter’s Legacy: The Students of Samuel Rosenberg; Too Shallow for Diving: The 20th Century Is Treading Water; Radiant Circles: Ruth E. Levine’s Generous Life; and Super Silly! Superman Creators’ Funnyman Fights Crime with Shtick. Before joining the American Jewish Museum she directed the International Residency Program at Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art in Staten Island. She holds an M.A. in Cura- torial Studies in Contemporary Art and Culture from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College.
1. Susan Sontag, In America (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2000), 27.
Look Again: The ACM Collection Inspires the Boston Printmakers
Girl with Horn
Leslie Golomb Pittsburgh PA 2015 Photogravure 1. 22" X 30" 2. 28" X 37" 3. 28"X 37" Upon seeing Ture Bengtz’s print, “Girl with Horn,” I felt an immediate kinship. Bengtz’s lithograph captures the essence of what I strive for in my current work. Bengtz’s image captures motion, mystery and sound all at once. I am in awe! My prints created for “Look Again,” start with staged photography and drawn elements. Photogravure, my medium of choice, by its very nature creates dreamlike imagery, evoking a world between the real and the imagined. As in my work, “Girl With Horn” is also allegorical, and part of a larger narrative. Like Bengtz, I strive to leave the viewer yearning for more.
Image Above by Leslie A. Golomb and Michelle Browne
The Faces of Politics: In/Tolerance
Fuller Craft Museum
455 Oak Street, Brockton, MA 02301
2016 will be a pivotal time in the United States: a watershed moment in the divide of our national political system. Racial tensions, religious freedom, women’s health and reproductive rights, equality in the work place, gender equality and L.G.B.T. rights are all vulnerable to dramatic changes – both good and bad. The Faces of Politics: In/Tolerance asks artists to examine, on a personal level, how their creative vision is influenced by the current political unrest – locally, nationally, and on a global scale. Guest curator: Bruce Hoffman, Director Gravers Lane Gallery, Chestnut Hill, PA. The exhibition is made possible through the generous support of the Caroline Graboys Fund
Opens April 16, 2016
Participant Exhibitor of Impact 9 Print Conference 2015, China Academy of Art, Hangzhou
Friday, August 21, 2015 to Sunday, November 1, 2015
The exhibit was open to all artists who work in printmaking media. Juror Kim Beck chose work by the following artists:
Jo-Anne Bates, Christie Biber, Michelle Browne, Chris Calligan, Barbara Broff Goldman, Leslie A. Golomb*, John Hanna, Robert Howsare, Paula Garrick Klein, Thomas J. Norulak, Mick Opalko,Elizabeth Rose, Sharon Wilson-Wilcox.
*Leslie A. Golomb was awarded a Juror’s Award for her work in photogravure.
Founded in 1972, the Pittsburgh Print Group is a non-profit organization of artists who work in all fine art printmaking media. The Pittsburgh Print Group, an affiliated guild of Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts (PF/PCA), is dedicated to artistic excellence and the perpetuation of printmaking as a fine art form. Print Group provides its members with exhibition opportunities throughout the southwestern Pennsylvania region, and artist networking through educational events including demonstrations, artist talks and workshops.
Kim Beck is an Associate Professor of Art at Carnegie Mellon University. She received her MFA in Painting and Printmaking at Rhode Island School of Design and her BA from Brandeis University. Using images of architecture and landscape, Kim Beck makes drawings, paintings, prints, photographs, books, cutout sculptures and installations that survey peripheral suburban spaces.
For more information, please visit www.pittsburghprintgroup.com.
"Printmaking Processes" Thursday, September 24, 2015, 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh Print Group members Chris Calligan, Barbara Broff Goldman, Leslie Golomb, and Paula Garrick Klein will discuss their work in the exhibit and their different processes and approaches to printmaking.
Prize Winner of Pittsburgh Print Group Exhibition at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Fall 2015
Award chosen by Kim Beck.
Review by Kurt Shaw:
Panelist Partcipant: Depth of Field - Processing the Work of Women Photographers: Frick Art and Historical Center Thursday, March 19, 7:00 2015
Thursday, March 19, 2015 7:00-9:00 p.m. The Frick Art Museum To see the world through a woman's eyes is a powerful thing. The Frick does just that in celebration of Women's History Month as it welcomes female photographers living and working in Pittsburgh. Linda Benedict-Jones shares insights into the contributions of women in the history of photography and moderates a panel of women who shape our collective vision by boldly and beguilingly capturing and revealing their unique perspectives. Complete with a custom cocktail mixed and served by LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails), the evening toasts the women behind the viewfinders. Snap up your spot; this program fills quickly. $8 members; $10 non-members and guests.
508 West 26th Street, 5th Floor
(Between 10th and 11th Avenues)
New York, NY 10001
Leslie Golomb: Gallery Talk: International Print Center New York/Art Walk Chelsea 2013
Voices: Gallery Talk: Leslie Golomb at the Andy Warhol Museum 2012
Prints Tokyo 2012 INVITATIONAL- Commentary in the catalog about my work.
内山良子/ Ryoko UCHIYAMA
When I saw Leslie Golonb’s works for the first time I felt that they spoke to the most tender part of the human heart; perhaps because the motifs used in the images stirred up images of a bygone era. There is a clear voice that talks to the viewer in the quiet expression of her art; I hope that voice will reach a wide audience.
Workshop at the Frick Art and Historical Center
Jewish Pittsburgh artist wins international prize, to make prints in China
Jewish Pittsburgh artist wins international prize, to make prints in China for exhibition
“Aza Sheyn Meydll" (such a pretty girl) is the title of Leslie Golomb’s winning artwork.
Leslie Golomb never wins anything, not even a Bingo game.
But it seems the Jewish Pittsburgh artist’s fortune has changed — and in a big way.
Golomb will embark next week for an all-expense paid trip to China, as one of 15 winners of the 2011 International Print Biennial, sponsored by the Chinese Artists Association, Shenzhen Federation of Literary Art Circles and Baoan District People’s Government of Shenzhen.
The award is called the Guanlan International Prize, and Golomb is the only American to win out of more than 2,800 entries from 70 different counties.
In addition to a grant of prize money, Golomb has been invited to come to China to receive the award. More importantly, she says, she will return again to China later this year to work as an artist-in-residence for up to three months.
Golomb has been making art for years, showing her works at the Hebrew Union Museum in New York, as well as at several universities, including the University of Richmond and the University of Rochester. She has been recognized by the National Endowment of the Arts, as well as the PA Council on the Arts.
But the Guanlan International Prize is in a league of its own.
“It costs money to make art and to be in the business of art,” she said. “As an artist, you get recognition in publicity, or a little prize money, but nothing of this magnitude.”
Golomb’s winning piece is a photogravure original print called “Aza Sheyn Meydll,” Yiddish for “such a pretty girl.” It depicts a young woman with braids tied on top of her head.
“There are many references that when a Jewish woman gets married, and covers her hair, that her braid metaphorically becomes the challah,” she said. “This ties into my ongoing study of Jewish women and prayer can be interpreted on many levels.”
Golomb chose to enter “Aza Sheyn Meydll” in the competition because she thought its spiritual bent would complement the nature of much of Chinese art, yet its Jewish theme would make it unique.
“I do work with a spiritual nature,” she said. “I chose to do something on Jewish identity. When you enter a competition, and they are looking at 3,000 works, something has to make you stand apart.”
While working as an artist-in-residence in China later this year, Golomb plans to do something “that is a blending of Chinese culture and Jewish culture in some way,” she said, “something blending my experience there with my experience here.”
While working in China, Golomb will be housed in a studio in an ancient, restored, rural artist village located near the busy industrial area of Shenzhen.
“The whole village is devoted to print-making,” Golomb said.
While there, a master printer will be assigned to help her do the printing of her works.
“The idea that I will have a master printer is unbelievable,” said Golomb, who is used to doing all the heavy lifting herself in her studio on the North Side.
“I’ll produce all the art and make my own plates. But each plate is hand-wiped, and it can take an hour to wipe a plate,” she said. “The master printer will be doing that for me. The prints have to be perfect. I will make 20 or 30 of each. Each one is exactly the same. It’s very hard to do because it is a hand process.”
Golomb will return to Pittsburgh with about 25 prints, leaving five behind in China, to be shown at various prestigious venues there, she said.
Following her artist-in-residency, Golomb plans to show her new work at her alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University, at its Gates/Hillman Center.
The organizers of the competition are particularly excited to host an American artist, Golomb said.
“They have made a point in telling me that it is a special honor to have an artist from the United States,” she said, “and will raise our flag when I stand up to accept my award.”
(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at email@example.com.)
Read more: The Jewish Chronicle - Jewish Pittsburgh artist wins international prize to make prints in China for exhibition
Mary Thomas Comes to the Studio Interviews Leslie Golomb and Michelle Browne
Post Gazette interviews Leslie Golomb and Barbara Broff Goldman
Book of Jewish women's prayers brings local authors closer to their faith
May 29, 2008 10:00 AM
Michael Henninger/Post-Gazette Leslie Golomb, left, and Barbara Broff Goldman pose for a portrait inside Ms. Broff Goldman's studio in Squirrel Hill with a copy of their book, "To Speak Her Heart," a collection of Jewish women's prayers and artwork by the two women.
In Orthodox and some Conservative Jewish traditions, one of the prayers that starts the day begins: "Thank you God for not making me a woman."
It was something that made Leslie A. Golomb, an artist from Point Breeze, uncomfortable when she rejoined a Conservative congregation 12 years ago.
"All these patriarchal things were hitting me in the face," said Ms. Golomb. "I started feeling a need to sort of search out women's voices."
So she sought out tkines, prayers, written for women most often by women, to help her find her place in a religion in which most traditional prayers are male-centric.
She compiled her decade or so of research in "To Speak her Heart," an anthology of prayers that she worked on with friend and fellow artist Barbara Broff Goldman of Squirrel Hill. Both women created art to go with each prayer.
The two women will present the book for a book-signing at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at Rodef Shalom Congregation in Oakland. The signing will be followed by lunch and a prayer-writing workshop at noon led by Hebrew Union College professor Wendy I. Zierler, who wrote the introduction for the book.
The workshop and lunch cost $18. To make reservations, call 412-681-1537.
The two women came up with the idea for the book two years ago when Ms. Goldman was teaching Ms. Golomb book-binding. Both were raised in the Reform tradition and had largely lost touch with the religion until they were adults.
Ms. Goldman shared Ms. Golomb's sentiment about the male-centrism of parts of Judaism.
"Prayer was very much wrapped around God and men," she said.
Ms. Golomb told Ms. Goldman about the tkines she was researching and the two decided to collaborate on a book.
"I didn't even know about [them] before," Ms. Goldman said. "And it just rolled, like a dust ball, from there."
Tkines are not prescribed prayers that are said in synagogues and are not widely known. In fact, much of the tkines contained within the book would only be available in a scholarly setting, the women said.
The book grew, in part, out of their desire to make the prayers more accessible to women of all backgrounds.
In creating the compilation, the women said they wanted to capture as diverse a set of voices as possible. So the 25 tkines in the book come from a variety of places and eras and address everything from baking bread to the Holocaust to coming out as a lesbian.
One prayer, which addresses the emotionally unavailable, begins, "Thank God I was born a woman."
"We sat for hours and hours ... going back and forth to find which ones spoke to us," said Ms. Golomb. "We didn't want it to all be about defiant women ... I wanted to get some feeling about the lives of women throughout the diaspora, throughout all the places they ended up."
The illustrations that accompany the prayers are mixed medium and contain lithography, photography and etchings that were digitally scanned and compiled on computers.
Ms. Golomb said she felt she developed a connection with each of the women she wrote about and each of the prayers she illustrated. The book also contains biographical information about all of the authors.
"I feel like each prayer that I studied and illustrated, I got to know each of these women and that they became a friend in some way," she said. "I tried to learn as much as I could about their lives and tried to approach it as if we were having a conversation."
She added that she believes the book can appeal to women of all religious backgrounds because the prayers address concerns that are universal.
Putting together the book has helped her find her place in Judaism, she said, but she added that it's going to be a life-long search.
"I'm still trying to question where the heck I am," she said.
Moriah Balingit can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-2533.