From Earth to Heaven

Prof. Haviva Pdaya
Department of Jewish Thought
Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Be’er Sheva

Ruth Dorrit Yacoby is an artist who, in recent years, has been awarded international recognition. She has exhibited in leading galleries worldwide and in international museums both in the East and in the West, from the Far East to South America, not to mention her numerous important exhibitions in Israel.

Dorrit Yacoby’s work is unique and highly profound, possessing the rare qualities of Great Art. Aware of fashions and trends and versed in a range of techniques, her art is innovative, original, uncompromising and trend-setting, and yet inherently “classic”.

Her paintings are the product of a journey, an evolvement, of a creative personality’s crystallization and emergence, reborn from art which is life and life which is art.

Her oeuvre, in its innermost essence, is spiritual and religious, incorporating the entire range of pure religious manifestations: From religious sentiments which are radical-spiritual to those which are magical-primeval (religion which is detached from the institutional types and modes of this ever-so-charged notion in Israel). This very same force likewise underlies her immediate, powerful linkage with variegated tribal and religious art forms, and accounts for the strong impact of and favorable responses to her works from sophisticated and naive audiences alike, both in the mainstream and in remote cultures where the ritualistic contexts are strong and meaningful.

It is against this background that I perceive the unique union of matter and spirit in her artistic oeuvre. This union is deeply linked to her own life and being: Dorrit Yacoby lives in the Desert, in the town of Arad. She studies at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, in the Department of Jewish Thought. The colors and elements of earth and light, the desert light and sea salt, and the sense of sky and wind - all these assume real, material representation in her works, through direct processing of substances which she assimilates and incorporates into her works, and through abstract modes of expression.

The diverse Jewish sources to which she is exposed in her studies are also infused into her creative consciousness, often lending the works their figurative, symbolic, or even sacramental orientation (as in her series entitled Vessels of the Soul). One senses the infiltration of essential contents drawn from the treasures of Jewish Thought and Midrash into her artistic work, not in an artificial external manner, but rather by way of genuine internalization and assimilation of materials into the very core of her life and spiritual development as a human being.

In this sense, Yacoby primarily voices the ultimate wish of the creative soul: the union of the corporeal and the spiritual. The graceful touch of the gifted hand upon the inspiration of spirit.

Looking at her works one feels her art was hewn from the depths of the soul, as if observing an unfolding story, whose existential intensity draws upon the effort and aspiration toward spiritual and creative development and toward self-fulfillment as a wife and mother. The viewer is asked to share her life, her experience, her prayer, and is carried into flight like her figures of light. Yacoby strives to come out of darkness and emerge into the light.

Dorrit Yacoby’s oeuvre is nourished by that which is specifically and singularly Israeli, unique to the Land of Israel and to Israeliness in essence and spirit; therefrom she rises and emerges to embrace universality.

Prof. Haviva Pdaya Department of Jewish Thought Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Be’er Sheva

Ruth Dorrit Yacoby - tican 2001