I like the meditation of working silently focused on a document, finding the right texture of paper for a fill, fiddling around with acrylic paints to tone it the right color, creating a tiny beveled edge and pasting the mend in so it fits just so. Often, I am looking and thinking so much about the paper fibers, the way the pigment is laid onto the weave, the way the tear is broken, that I don’t really notice what the art portrays, or what the document says.
Sometimes, the work is going smoothly and I allow my mind to wander a bit. Today was such a day, and when I found myself remembering a bunch of Yiddish words, turning them over in my mind, I was a bit puzzled. I haven’t heard Yiddish spoken since I was a teenager. No one in my life now speaks Yiddish, but there they were: “Hey, schmendrick, what are you doing? Are you meshugana? What’s this mishegas?” (Translation: Hey, moron…are you nuts? What’s this craziness? – I’m not sure why my inner Yid is so insulting…)
Then I realized. I am working on a Ketuba. A Jewish marriage certificate. Aha! The subject matter creeps in, even when you think you aren’t paying attention. I spend a few minutes thinking about family long gone, and turn back to the mending.