Leonard Nimoy lecture on his photography
Tuesday, November 12, 2002 at 7:00 pm
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
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
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.
Selected Sundays, 10am-2pm: October 6 and 20, November 3 and 24,
Museum Admission: Free
For curated tours for reporters/editors, group tours, and additional
information, please call (212) 824-2205.