The Hollow of His Thigh

The Small Room Gallery, Beit Midrash Elul, Jerusalem, November,1999

The exhibit deals with Jacob’s struggle with the angel as told in Genesis: 32:24-32, in a series of mixed media works. In this story Jacob, who is on his way to meet his brother Esau after twenty years in exile, remains alone after helping his family and servants cross the Yabok River. He meets the angel in a mythical struggle between man and the devine.

“And Jacob was left alone;

and there wrestled a man with him

until the breaking of the day.

And when he saw that he prevailed not against him,

he touched the hollow of his thigh;

And the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was strained,

as he wrestled with him.”

Genesis:  32:24-27

Jacob, left alone, met a man, a shadow man,

the dark side of his life, his fear, his vulnerability, his weakness.  

Jacob’s mythical struggle with this figure is a confrontation

between man and his own reflection.”

The Hollow of His Thigh

Chana Cromer’s works could be called “works of touching nobility”.  Nobility is by nature separate, careful to keep a safe distance. In spite of their delicacy, Chana Cromer’s works do not fear to touch on the focal point of pain itself, at the point of fracture.

Out of Jacob’s wrestling the angel, Jacob, the crooked, the deceptive, the subordinate, emerges as Israel, erect and powerful. “And the rugged shall be made level.”(Is. 40,4)  Yet because of this struggle, he remains scarred. The injury he suffered on the way to claiming his new name and his new sense of being will not be erased.  He was inflicted in the hollow of his thigh. In order to become erect, vertical, (In Hebrew the root of the word, anochi, “I”, is in the word, “vertical”), he must first be injured. He remains lame.  Even when he becomes erect, he is branded with a sign. The affliction is a seal, a covenant that will be part of him forever.

Out of this place come Chana Cromer’s works. From the confrontation with the location of affliction… from the confrontation between dislocation and standing firm, emerge the nails, the sticks, the snakes in her work.From the confrontation between the crumbling and the eternal, were formed the delicately thin hangings, the petals, the plaster, and the twigs.  From the location of the wound come the latent colors of flesh and skin.

Rashi, the commentator on the Bible, says that in the word “struggle” (ma-avak) are found both the roots of the words “dust” (avak) and the word “steadfastness” (devakut). Chana Cromer’s works are embroidered from the thread that holds both the flying dust and stubborn steadfastness.

Rivka Miriam

Curator of Exhibition.

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