love of art, art for love

Artist Profile: PasukArt by Sonia Gordon-Walinsky

In Artist Profile on October 20, 2009 at 11:50 am

Sonia Gordon-Walinsky with one of her original, hand-written and painted ketubbot (Jewish marriage contracts). Sonia  Gordon-Walinsky2009

PasukArt by Sonia Gordon-Walinsky

What kind of artwork do you create for weddings?

I create two kinds of artwork for weddings- ketubbot and PasukArt.

PasukArt, as shown above, is my unique creation of Torah artwork that connects a couple’s names with a biblical verse. This artwork is inspired by the rabbinic tradition of ascribing each person a name pasuk- a biblical verse that begins and ends with the first and last letters of one’s name. This beautifully hand-painted artwork is a uniquely meaningful wedding gift that inspires a personal connection to Torah. Along with the artwork I also present a scholarly description of the verses and their connection to the couple’s names.  The verses may be presented under the chuppah, along with the ketubbah, or at another appropriate time.

I also create hand-written and painted custom ketubbot and ketubbah prints. The ketubbah is central to Jewish weddings as the legal contract of the marriage and can also be an expression of the couple’s commitment to each other. My ketubbot bring the couple’s aesthetic into their wedding ceremony and into their home.

After the wedding, your ketubbah or PasukArt will remind you of your wedding day and bring you joy throughout your marriage. At my wedding, our rabbi advised us to read our ketubbah whenever we needed to be reminded of the blissfulness of our wedding day love, and grounded in the promises we made to each other on that day.  

I imagine that many customers have an idea of what kind of ketubbah they have in mind, but difficulty explaining their vision. What kinds of questions do you ask to help learn more about their ideas? 

In my conversations with a couple I try to get a sense of their style and translate it into artistic elements. Often, the partners have different styles that I work at blending together in their ketubbah, making it a true expression of marriage! 

I ask the couple about the kinds of colors, shapes, and textures they are drawn to, and what emotions they want the artwork to elicit.  For example, if you want to feel calmed and happy when you look at your ketubbah, what colors — bright or dark, and particular colors—do this for you?  Perhaps you can figure this out by looking at the artwork on your walls, or the colors you choose to wear.  For the design, do you like floral or geometric, angular or smooth shapes, or a combination?  Would you like your ketubbah to be simple or very detailed and ornate?  If you have strong, vague or no preferences–  it’s all great.  With whatever information I have, I start sketching your ketubbah.  We discuss the sketches together and hone in on the design that you like the most to ensure that you are happy with the finished artwork.

I also consult couples on selecting the ketubbah text that’s right for them. 

How does your personal experience with weddings inform your wedding business?

My husband and I got married a little over 3 years ago, so the planning for our wedding is pretty fresh in my mind.  In my experience as a bride, the most frustrating part of planning our wedding was dealing with vendors and trying to get accurate information about their services and price.  Drawing directly from that, I am upfront about what artwork I create for what costs. Custom artwork can be expensive, but I try to work within a couple’s budget, and have come up with some creative solutions to do so.  I’m aware that it can be a stressful time for the couple, and I do everything I can to make my part of it enjoyable and to bring a sense of holiness to the experience.

When did you begin doing art and how did you get into religious artwork?

I grew up with my mom’s ceramic studio and my dad’s piano studio in our home.  Music, dance and visual art were (and are) as much a part of my life as food. By the age of 10, I was seriously enthusiastic about prayer. 

Throughout my childhood I was engaged in art and prayer, but it wasn’t until I reached college that I really combined these two passions.  I attended List College, the undergraduate school at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City, where I studied Jewish literature, and was especially focused on liturgy.  It was at this academic level of analyzing the Hebrew texts that I was inspired by their beauty and moved to create artwork with them.  It’s been over 6 years since then and its exciting for me that there is an endless pool of sources from liturgy, Torah and beyond for me to draw from for my artwork for years to come.

What is your dream commission?

Each PasukArt painting is a journey of research and creation, and is so fulfilling.  I have created PasukArt for all sorts of celebrations- birth, b’nai-mitzvah, marriage, anniversary, conversion, graduations, special events honoring clergy and synagogue functionaries-  and I love people’s reactions to the artwork and the text. I feel that PasukArt enriches celebrations and also has the potential to comfort those in need of healing.  My dream is to continue creating PasukArt for all sorts of life-cycle experiences for individuals, couples and communities and through my artwork to have a positive impact on people’s relationship to Torah. 

How do you integrate art into your everyday life?

My artwork is a part of my spiritual practice. Every chance I get to sit at my table and work is nurturing to my soul.  Every week I have many projects going on, in addition to drawing and painting, these often include translating Hebrew and Aramaic texts, and creating graphic design materials for marketing.  Thankfully, I find these all very enriching and that’s what makes my profession and my passion one and the same.

How can people commission artwork from you?

You can go to my website or just give me a call at (917) 822-7963.

If you’re in New York City on November 18, 2009, you can come by the Heschel School Market Fair from 6-9pm to buy prints.  Email me at pasukart(at)gmail(dot)com for more info.

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  1. […] most recent artist profile on the blog is with Sonia Gordon-Walinsky. Her specialties are hand-written and painted custom ketubbot and ketubbah prints as well as […]

  2. What a cute idea…these are so adorable. Thanks for sharing your art.

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