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Artist's comments on this painting

"Babel Not"        1996        72in x 96in    183cm x 244cm       

 painting by collaborative artists  Ira and Corliss Lesser  

 "Babel Not"

October, 1996

Ira:     A patriarchal head on the bound and forward facing body of a woman, who kneels before a ceremonial staircase.  She is illuminated by Sabbath candles.  I believe this is one of our finest images, it is Corliss's baby, her persistence and pursuit of 'Babel' made it happen.

     It is one of our gender issue paintings, as many of our later pictures are, male and female roles are interchangeable.  Here the quest for spiritual resolution is directly tied to the loss of gender specificity.


Corliss:      Driven to incorporate the Tower of Babel into a painting, I created a sketch of the Tower swarming with rats, an image I considered too literal and only a tool for communication.  I awoke one morning to find Ira had used this sketch to start a new painting.  He had added a corpse at the foot of the of the Tower. The image was so depressing, neither of us wanted to look at it, and we painted over it.

     My wish to paint this subject wouldn't cease.  In two years, the concept that started as 'Babel On' became the painting "Babel Not".


Commentary from exhibition at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California.