The Metro Atlanta Community Mikvah continues its effort to beautify the mitzvah of immersion with its second art exhibit, a show of local artist Susan Proctor’s work called “Ancient Women of the Earth.”
The pieces are expressionist works of women of color and scenes from the walls of Masada. Proctor is inspired by full lips, brown skin and ethnic beauty, providing her work with glimpses of a distant past.
“I like strong women,” Proctor said. “I’m not inspired by people who are really thin and really white. I like thicker lips and a little more character to the face.”
The exhibit makes use of the wall space in the common areas at MACoM.
Michal Ilai is in charge of choosing artists for four-month exhibits at the community mikvah under the hiddur mitzvot (beautification of the mitzvot) committee.
“If you do it with more intention and beautification, then it elevates the mitzvot,” Ilai said.
She picks Jewish artists whose work reflects the mission of the ritual bath.
The first exhibit, which opened at the MACoM annual meeting in June and ran until the end of October, was a collection of water-themed photographs by Sandy Springs artist Margery Diamond.
Viewings of the MACoM gallery are available free by appointment (404-549-9679).
Proctor finds many of her models at the Atlanta Arts Center, where she paints portraits using mixed media. The pieces displayed at MACoM are a combination of acrylic and natural elements such as sand.
The exhibit takes viewers back in time to gaze on women of the Torah who assume they are alone. Proctor’s work is layered with thick strokes capturing the essence of her subjects.
The piece “Peaceful Moment” depicts a woman who seems to be deep in thought or prayer.
The painting “Native Pose” depicts a woman at home in the desert. The woman is made up of earth tones and loose shapes.
“The latest piece is the native woman, and I’m leaning more towards abstract,” Proctor said. “I don’t like realistic paintings. I paint realistic at first, then go back and correct it.”
Her “Palatable” series focuses less on women and more on Judaica. The brightly colored collages depict Chanukah menorahs and stars of David.
Layers of sheet music create the candles in her pieces.
“The sheet music is what I learned how to play piano on and my mother, who passed a year ago, learned on,” Proctor said.
The memories of loved ones give light to Proctor’s collage process. Each work is a celebration of the flow of life and the joy in observing mitzvot. The chanukiot incorporate gold and textures like wrapping paper from a bridal shower.
As an artist, she prefers rough edges and layers of material that add depth to each piece. She said she doesn’t like smooth surfaces. She opts for a more organic aesthetic.
“I like texture. See how I rip the paper instead of cut it? I like the deckled edges,” she said. “None of them are really perfect-looking All these things that look like mistakes aren’t mistakes. … That’s the way it should be.”