Everyone has heard of the miracle oil that lasted for eight days, but did you know about the long and varied art history behind Hanukkah lamps? Beyond the formula of eight oil lamps and a ninth servant lamp, there are number of different formats, shapes, styles, and engravings
For example, the first picture is of a standing menorah, while the other is a bench style lamp. This latter form was intended for use in the home so that families could place their lamps on the window sill, or on the wall. Furthermore, according to Judaic scholar Abram Kanof, Hanukkah lamps often reflect the environment in which they were created. For example, the second menorah features rampant heraldic lions, which were a highly popular feature in Austrian 19th century Hanukkah lamps.
If you would like to find out more about Hanukkah lamps, visit our Judaic gallery in the west building of the North Carolina Museum of Art!
Brian Ulrich’s work explores consumerism through boom and bust in his exhibition Copia: Retail, Thrift, and Dark Stores 2001-2011 at the North Carolina Museum of Art. Fascinated by our consumerist culture, Ulrich could see, even in the days of plenty, that it could not last, stating that “I came to contemplate the effects of all this continually cheaper-by-the-dozen consumption and where it all might end after losing its sheen.”
As Ulrich identifies, our consumer culture is not always a pretty picture. However, its ugliest day is, no doubt, Black Friday. Since World War 2, the Friday after Thanksgiving has evolved into a special sales day, an excellent opportunity to economize on your Christmas shopping, and to snap up a bargain. However, every year it seems that the frenzy grows, with earlier and earlier store opening times, ruthless shoppers, and even deaths and injuries. It seems ironic that the day following a celebration of sharing and community should involve a stampede for a half priced laptop.
In Passion by Katherine Harris, the pattern of this weaving is more than just an aesthetic configuration - it is symbolic of her experience of Bipolar 2 Disorder. Although we often see textiles and clothing as fashion choices - compositions of color and contour - there are many examples of textiles that make use of symbolism.
For example the colors and patterns used in Kente cloth from Ghana all have meanings. Yellow denotes preciousness, white means purity, and green is used to represent freshness. The patterns all have names such as ‘sandals,’ or ‘broken pot,’ and are meant to portray the character of the person, telling you if they are happy, steady, or clever. Together, the jigsaw of colors and patterns work together to create a story in cloth, for example, this Kente cloth at the North Carolina Museum of Art is called ‘One Day You Will Laugh.’
Would you like to try and make your own Kente cloth? The National Museum of African Art has an online Kente designer!