Commitments - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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On View: May 10, 2012 – May 31, 2013

Marlene Louchheim’s sculptures are about more than replicating large-scale burlap sacks using a variety of metals. Her art pieces talk to each other – about love, about distance, about fear and tenderness. Above all, perhaps, they talk about commitment and the need to heal the world. Commitments features four works by Louchheim, a unique Jewish artist and Los Angeles native whose creations range from small, intimate sculptures to giant aluminum and bronze bags.

 Each fold, bend and curve in the material whispers to viewers about the power of commitment and the idea that hard work, dedication and love can create lasting monuments. And while each burlap bag is filled with an unknown entity, they seem to be abundant with the quiet resolution that our actions can make a difference. Stuffed to overflowing and inspired by a family of philanthropists, the bags are a testament to tikkun olam – healing the world – and the need to find a container for sparks of the divine.

Consider “Study in Black,” a two-piece set of cast bronze that speaks to the issue of how people relate to one another – a common theme in Louchheim’s work. Or “Filled with Commitment,” a towering two-part work near the campus’s main entrance that resembles two overfilled bags made from burlap, bronze, and aluminum. The work, intended to inspire viewers to contribute to their communities, was created in memory of Louchheim’s brother, Wally Marks, who was committed to giving back to humanity and fighting for global justice.

Louchheim, who has a son who was ordained as a rabbi by the College-Institute 25 years ago, maintains studios in L.A. and Hawaii. Her evolution as an artist has led her to embrace various art forms, beginning in the late 1950s while living with her family in Japan. There she immersed herself in the country’s art of flower arranging. Later she studied sculpture at the Schenectady Museum in New York and clay at the American University in Washington, D.C. When she moved to Los Angeles in 1968, she shifted her emphasis to stone.

In 1972, Louchheim’s father-in-law, William, founded the Jerome H. Louchheim School of Judaic Studies at HUC-JIR in Los Angeles as a memorial to his father, a founder of CBS. The School provides undergraduate Judaic Studies courses to more than 600 students at the University of Southern California – all taught by HUC-JIR faculty. She and her husband, William (Sandy), have continued this commitment to philanthropy by supporting student scholarships and through other means.

Artists featured in Commitments: Marlene Lochheim

Organized by the Enhancement Committee of HUC-JIR’s Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles and curator Anne Hromadka. This exhibition is made possible through the generosity of HUC-JIR, the Lochheim family, and Sue Neuman Hochberg.

3077 University Avenue, Los Angeles

Entrance on Hoover Street between 30th and 32nd streets


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