Beitzah

Honoring Jaime Wynn

On June 13, Jaime Wynn passed away after a battle with cancer. She was an artist, scholar, teacher, friend, and all around incredible human being. I met Jaime through the Drisha Arts Fellowship. At the time, I had a full-time job, a corner of my Manhattan bedroom dedicated to my art, and a really hard time accepting the title “artist.” With a ton of encouragement from Jaime and the other Drisha artists, I left my two years there as a full time artist, completely embracing this new path.
 
It is a Jewish tradition to┬ástudy mishnah in the thirty days after a person has passed away as a means to “uplift their soul” so several people came together to each study one tractate in Jaime’s memory. Because of her connection to the Arts Fellowship, many also agreed to create a piece of art inspired by that learning.
 
I studied Mishnah Beitzah in Jaime’s memory and Chapter 1, Mishnah 4 jumped out at me as the inspiration for my piece. It states: “If one designated (literal: invited) black ones (birds to slaughter) and found white ones or designated white ones and found black ones, or if he designated two and found three, these are prohibited.” (Translation by┬ásefaria.org)
 
BeitzahAfter reading this, I pictured those birds in the nest discussing their next move. Would the white birds and black birds have a deal that they would switch places to invalidate their designation for slaughter? Would they have friends standing by to join them and throw off the people’s plan? Or perhaps they would have feather suits of the other color to put on when the person came back for them. I couldn’t get this picture out of my head, so that became the basis for the art piece. In the piece, one of the white birds sees the person coming back and calls to the other to get out the black feather suits before he gets to them.
 
As many of you know, I have not spent much time in my studio in the 9 months since my daughter was born. She tends to nap for about 30 minutes max, so it doesn’t allow for much productivity. I didn’t know how I was going to get this piece done in time, but wanted to find a way to honor Jaime’s memory. And suddenly, I found that just like when we first met, Jaime was pushing me to find a way to study and create. Thank you, Jaime, for inspiring and encouraging me to follow my heart and to make space in my life for creative endeavors.

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