“If you thirst for a homeland and seek shelter in its bosom, love it and live in its mountains and valleys, its flora and fauna.”
Inspired by nature, the art of Dafna Kaffeman conveys the complexities of life in modern Israel. Kaffeman creates exquisitely crafted plant replicas using flame-worked glass. These botanical specimens reflect the natural world of the artist’s homeland. The glass plants are combined with Hebrew and Arabic words printed or embroidered on soft white fabric, including handkerchiefs which are often associated with Jewish cultural practices of celebration, commemoration, sacrifice, and mourning. Each plant the artist renders in glass has its own cultural and historical meaning.
(Banner image: Dafna Kaffeman (Israeli, b. 1972), The Rule of Law, 2020, Flame-worked glass and paper, Photo credit: Elad Sarig)
Many artworks in the exhibition include quotations that have been pulled directly from newspaper articles describing current events in Israel. “I think it makes a difference whether such incidents are forgotten or instead remain in our memories,” Kaffeman said. Other artworks incorporate excerpts from a 1965 field guide to Israeli plants, including the particularly poignant line, “If you thirst for a homeland and seek shelter in its bosom, love it and live in its mountains and valleys, its flora and fauna.”
The combination of glass with text and fabric ignites both an intellectual and emotional response. The fragility of the glass botanicals emphasizes the fragility of all life; the Hebrew and Arabic texts may be indecipherable to many viewers, making the works feel ancient or exotic. In addition to mixed-media and flame-worked glass artworks, the exhibition will also include works on paper to further extend the artist’s meditation on nature, culture, and conflict.
If You Thirst for a Homeland: Flame-worked glass by Dafna Kaffeman is co-curated by Trudy Wiesenberger of the Cleveland-Israel Arts Connection, a program of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, and Carolyn Swan Needell, Ph.D., the Chrysler Museum of Art’s Carolyn and Richard Barry Curator of Glass. The exhibition will travel from Norfolk to the Roe Green Gallery at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland in 2022.
Support for the exhibition is generously provided by the Association of Israel’s Decorative Arts and by Cynthia and Stuart Katz.
Photo credit:@Ed Pollard courtesy of The Chrysler Museum @Elad Sarig @ Doron Leztzer @ Eric Tschernow courtesy of Lorch+seidel contemporary Berlin