Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Museum of Art



Steve Christensen

Archie Granot: The Papercut Haggadah Opens at LUMA

February 11 - May 9, 2010

CHICAGO, January 27, 2010 – The work of Israel-based artist Archie Granot, a recognized master of the delicate art of papercutting, is the focus of The Papercut Haggadah, a new exhibition at the Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA) opening Thursday, February 11. Using ancient Hebrew calligraphy and modern design motifs, Granot has created a 55-page papercut religious text similar to illuminated manuscripts that are enhanced by gold leaf and paint. These complex, multi-layered works, on display through Sunday, May 9, 2010, are on loan from the collection of Sandra and Max Thurm.

The Papercut Haggadah was commissioned in 1998 by private collectors and took ten years to complete. It evokes the intense emotions and rich symbolism associated with the Jewish holiday of Pesach (Passover). Granot uses abstract and geometric shapes to place the focus on the Haggadah text, rather than figural symbols, to tell the Pesach story. Each page is designed to be viewed as an independent work of art.

Papercutting is a folk art that has been popular among European Jews for centuries as an inexpensive craft that visually incorporates animals, plants, religious symbols, and Hebrew inscriptions. Granot cuts every design and word of the Hebrew text by hand with a scalpel and layers multiple sheets to create each 21-by-15 inch page, which measure as much as an inch thick and weigh as much as five pounds.

The Meaning of Haggadot                                                                                                                    The Haggadah (plural Haggadot) is a Jewish religious text, the basis of which is the re-telling of the story of the Exodus from Egypt. It is a guided reading used during Pesach and incorporates biblical narrative, historical discussion, rabbinic interpretation, holiday liturgy, and symbolic poems and folk songs. The oldest known manuscript dates from the tenth century, though the text is thought to have been compiled between 200 and 500 CE.

The Haggadah also outlines the order of the Pesach Seder, the meal that commemorates the “passover” by God of the Jewish infants in Egypt. The Seder includes question and response, as well as specific foods that symbolize the redemption of the Jews from bondage. The importance of reading the Haggadah is reflected in the verse, “You shall tell your son on that day; it is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt” (Exodus 13:8). Described by Lawrence A. Hoffman, a faculty member at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, as a sacred drama, the Haggadah is mutable—changing over time—and is enacted at the Seder table as a mitzvah, a deed denoting any commandment from God.

Granot’s Papercut Haggadah adds new insight, emotion, and expressiveness to Seder rituals. By placing focus on the text itself and drawing on modern abstract designs, the artist adds visual flexibility and spontaneity to the Pesach story.

The Artist
Archie Granot (b. 1946), self-taught in the art of papercutting, immigrated to Israel in 1978 from England. He created his first papercut in 1979 and brings to this Jewish art form a revival of a tradition with an extraordinary contemporary technique. Past museum exhibitions include: Israel Museum, Jerusalem; the Jewish Museum, New York; Philadelphia Museum of Judaica, Philadelphia; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The exhibition was previously shown in 2008 at Yeshiva University, New York, and is on loan to the Loyola University Museum of Art.
The Papercut Haggadah is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

Public Programs:

The Passover Seder: A Teaching/Tasting Experience
Thursday, March 11, at 4 p.m.
LUMA, 820 N. Michigan Avenue

Join students from Hillel at Loyola as they explain the order, customs, and traditions of the Passover Seder, one of Judaism’s central rituals. The Seder celebrates the liberation of the Jewish people by retelling their historic journey from slavery to freedom. Attendees will not only learn about the Seder, but also taste some of the Seder’s special foods. Free admission.

The Passover Seder: A Guided Tour of Art, Ideas, and Ideals
Tuesday, April 13, at 6 p.m.
LUMA, 820 N. Michigan Avenue

Rabbi Michael Zedek from Emmanuel Congregation will explore how Judaism strives to marry an iconoclastic tradition with the desire/need for concrete forms. He will also consider how the Haggadah shares the story of the Exodus and shapes and alters Jewish theology, iconography, and anthropology. Co-sponsored by Hillel at Loyola. Free admission.

Meet a Collector of Haggadot
Tuesday, May 4, at 6 p.m.
LUMA, 820 N. Michigan Avenue

An avid collector, attorney Steve Durchslag has amassed more than 4,500 Haggadot (plural of Haggadah). His collection runs the gamut, from very old—one published in 1486—to contemporary, and reflects the historical periods and countries in which they were printed. His collection recounts the modern Jewish experience and the diversity of the Jewish diaspora. Join us for this free event and learn about Mr. Durchslag’s Haggadah passion.

About LUMA
Opened in 2005, the Loyola University Museum of Art is dedicated to exploring, promoting, and understanding art and artistic expression that illuminates the enduring spiritual questions of all cultures and societies. As a museum with an interest in education and educational programming, LUMA reflects the University’s Jesuit mission and is dedicated to helping people of all creeds explore the roots of their faith and spiritual quests. Located at Loyola University Chicago’s Water Tower Campus, the museum occupies the first three floors of the University’s historic Lewis Towers on Chicago’s famous Michigan Avenue. For more information, visit the museum’s website at LUC.edu/luma.

Art illuminating the spirit!