Bere’Shith (In the Beginning)
The three works I submitted are from a larger project, “Bere'shith,” which is the first Hebrew word in Genesis and means In the beginning. This work is a response to considerable loss in my life, and that coupled with the COVID period warranted not only beginning again, but a reflection on the larger meaning of cycles, death, and renewal. This is a universal process, so in short, the project investigates what it means to be human and to be alive. The images and writing reflect many forms of cycles that encompass reformation, from “welter and waste” (also from the first sentence of Genesis) to a form of restoration and ultimate peace, only to broken down again. It is as simple as the transition from day to night and back to day again, and as complicated as the creation of all things and the discovery of something that represents “Shekhinah,”or the divine in its feminine, motherly manifestation. The female form reflects seeing myself, a woman, both in this work and in the divine.
In a rare moment, got out of the way of my camera to let it be the guide, to reveal connections between images through time that unite the past to the present, death to renewal, and the seen to the unseen. I allowed what my camera saw to reveal the spiritual world, and I used light as a rod to heaven, to the spirits, and to invisible energy. I used Hebrew words and metaphors because I approached this project from a personal cultural lens, and my Jewish background informs the view from which I understand our human purpose, even as we move through loss and pain. Indeed, references in the project and the way it is organized lines up with the structure of the Torah, much as these writings have structured the cultural way in which I understand the world.
What surfaces is a metaphorical continuum of cycle, tradition, and light, ultimately embracing the idea of “L’dor V’dor,” or generation to generation – coming around again, but different and new each time. To me, this represents the spiral variation of a cycle and mimics the way we read our Torah scrolls, over and over again, starting from the beginning with each new year as we read, “Bere'shith” yet again, but seeing new ideas in the same text as we evolve. This work is my spiral, my renewal, and dare I say – heaven presented through light.
Dena Elisabeth Eber is an artist based in Northwest Ohio whose artistic endeavors include VR art works, photography, and interactive installations. Her current work is intimate and personal, addressing deep loss and change. Recently she has begun to challenge photographic conventions in order to discover renewal after profound grief. Dr. Eber has shown her work at numerous international and national exhibition venues including Gallery D-ART for the Images and Visualization International Symposium on Digital Art, SIGGRAPH, the Society for Photographic Educators, the Griffin Museum of Photography, Photoplace gallery, Manifest Gallery, The Los Angeles Center of Photography, and the International Digital
Media and Arts Association. She recently earned an honorable mention from the British Journal of Society’s Portrait of Humanity award and won the the Julia Margaret Cameron award for the series of portraits category, in addition to honorable mention for the fine art series and for the single image categories.
Dr. Eber is a Professor of Photography and Digital Arts at Bowling Green State University where she has taught since 1997. She earned her Ph.D. and her MFA in Art from the University of Georgia, and her MS in Computer Science and her BS in Mathematics from Colorado State University.