reenacting Rabbi Loews gestureTree of Life
Hands from Dr. Boo-boo healingDr. Boo-Boo meets Rabbi Loew
Recipe for spiritual elevation

Lynne-Rachel Altman

Berkeley, CA

Artistic Disciplines:
Visual Art

Artist Statement:


A  sculptor, I am fascinated by the legend of Rabbi Loew, who, seeking social justice in the 15th century, supposedly created a man of clay, a golum, and animated it to protect his community.  My work this past year, inspired by my desire for social change, involved dipping into my Ashkenazi background and reenacting Rabbi Loew's gesture to enliven..


Legend says the Rabbi used the name of god to bring the clay to life; Jewish scholars, however, maintain that while its o.k. to ingest its not cool to chew, mutilate or spit out the name. Fearful of pissing off god (or them), I resorted to stamping the name backwards (which doesn't count) onto tongue depressors with food coloring and transferring it to onto people's tongues where it could dissolve (forward and unmutilated) --momentarily transforming them into social sculpture.


Since the anthrax scare, congress no longer accepts unsolicited art, so I dressed as my alter ego, Dr. Boo-boo, and used the tongue depressors to “collect single prayers for single payer.” People were mistrustful of single payer health insurance and of me; however, I managed to collect a few prayers.  


It's reported the Rabbi achieved his great powers meditating on the tree of life; I too studied and then recreated  a tree of life out of giant lollipops.  I made a digital users guide for spiritual elevation  and installed them at the Di Rosa Preserve in Napa. Using grape liquid (the Rabbi's holy elixir) and chocolate (my holy sustainer), I sketched out the project in  a series of drawings comparing my life as a middle-aged pudgy-mother-artist with that of the grand Rabbi of Prague.


My favorite part of the project is going out into the community as Dr. Boo-Boo dispensing “devices for spiritual elevation and aids for wounded souls.” I was born, raised and educated in the East Bay, live in Berkeley and studio in East Oakland.  I love the cultural diversity of my home and the intersection of  my Ashkenazi background with the world culture around me.


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