Leonard Nimoy lecture on his photography exhibition Shekhina - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Leonard Nimoy lecture on his photography exhibition Shekhina

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Tuesday, October 1, 2002

Tuesday, November 12, 2002 at 7:00 pm 
Admission free

Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion 
One West 4th Street (between Broadway and Mercer Street) 
New York City

Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion will present a lecture by the artist, Leonard Nimoy in conjunction with the exhibition Leonard Nimoy: Shekhina, on view at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum through January 10, 2003. Nimoy's luminous photographs from his new book, Shekhina, express his search for the essence of the Shekhina, which he interprets as the manifestation of the divine presence in humankind and, particularly, the feminine aspect of God. Through black and white, light and shadow, figuration and abstraction, Nimoy captures poetic images of the female form. His evocations of spirit and flesh, prayer, gathering, and embrace provide a visual portal through which one may encounter this spiritual presence.

Leonard Nimoy was born in 1931 in Boston, Massachusetts. His 1951 film debut launched his acting career, but it was his role as Mr. Spock in the science fiction series Star Trek that earned him his iconic status and three Emmy nominations. Nimoy has pursued photography since his teens: In the 1970s he studied with Robert Heineken at UCLA. Nimoy uses the photographer's vocabulary to create a balance of textures as a metaphor for his spiritual interpretations. The rigors of intense, finely grained images are played off against illusionist forms blurred from direct scrutiny by gauzy scrims and veils.

Nimoy divides his work into sections: The Blessing, The Spirit in the Flesh, Prayer Against the Darkness, The Gathering, and Embracing the Light. Figures emerge from darkness into ambient light, the tallit (prayer shawl) is lifted to reveal far-seeing eyes, light pours through the hand of a prayerful woman. These intangible moments of emergence represent the creation of the female spirit.

He has introduced each of these photographic chapters with poetic interludes which further deepen our understanding of the Shekhina concept. In the earliest Kabbalistic writings, marked by mysticism and the belief in creation through emanation, the Shekhina is described as the feminine principle in the world of the divine Sefirot, the powers emanating from God, through which the world is created and its order sustained.

The restoration of the true unity of God, the masculine principle and the Shekhina, can be achieved through the adherence to Torah, the commandments, and prayer.

Laura Kruger, Curator of the HUC-JIR Museum noted, "In his powerful photographic exploration of the Shekhina, the revelation of holiness in a profane world, Leonard Nimoy has created a luminous body of work. Each of the feminine figures in his work emanates a mysterious glow, a mantle of light, which in itself becomes a visualization of the glory of God. The imagery of light is the connective sub-text of his work, the blacks are deep and intense, the ephemeral light is buoyant and elusive. Nimoy approaches women with a sculptor's eye. Frequently sited against awesome cloud formations or emerging from supernatural groves of tree branches, the women are assertive yet gently vulnerable."

This exhibition is presented in conjunction with Umbrage Books' publication of Shekhina, a collection of photographs by the renowned actor and artist, Leonard Nimoy.

For further information, please call Sarah Schriever at (212) 824-2293.

Museum Hours: 
Mondays-Thursdays, 9am-5pm; 
Fridays, 9am-3pm; 
Selected Sundays, 10am-2pm: October 6 and 20, November 3 and 24, December 8

Museum Admission: Free

For curated tours for reporters/editors, group tours, and additional information, please call (212) 824-2205.


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates leaders to serve North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, museums, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu