Photo: Courtesy of Naama Goldberg
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
I was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa to a mixed South African and Israeli couple. I visited Israel many times as I child, and made Aliyah shortly after finishing high school. I studied Mathematics and Computer Science in Jerusalem. I worked in graphic design and web development for many years.
I live in Beit Shemesh with my husband and five kids, a daughter and four sons.
What inspired you to become an artist?
Becoming an artist was a process of osmosis.
I grew up in a house of great creativity. Every surface was a canvas. Every problem had an infinite number of solutions. Creative thinking is in my blood.
My mother had taught in our home and exposed all the neighbourhood kids to arts and crafts. My sister experimented with painting, and drew colourful comic characters on our garage walls. She built wall sculptures out of paper mâché in her bedroom. I remember the dining room table which was scratched and damaged by accident, immediately turning into an additional surface for an artwork; each subsequent visitor was invited to engrave their name in the table!
My father provided structure and even rigidity. We got the best of both worlds. While art reigned supreme, science and especially math, prevailed too. Consequently, my own artistic skills flourished much later.
After high school I made Aliyah by myself and was struggling to get through an intensely academic science degree in Hebrew. Needing a break, I signed up for art classes once a week. This practice continued throughout my formal studies. I learned various techniques in art, experimented plenty, and soon discovered my artistic talent.
Although I never realized it before, my aesthetic sense had been groomed and developed over many years of overhearing my mother and my sister talk about design, colour and balance and watching them ‘in action’. The artist in me was incubating.
Having the opportunity to decorate my own home, once I got married, made me realize how important aesthetic was to me. Despite, and maybe due to, having limited space and means, I devoted much thought to the choice of furniture, decorations and to their placement.
The pictures of Gedolim, were the final touch to the work of art that was our home. I lived among the inspiring Jewish leaders who decorated my wall. Unfortunately, their images were not aesthetically pleasing, and that disturbed me very much
For years, I searched for something that would fit into the modern aesthetic of my home, but I could not find anything suitable. I wanted the Gedolim. In way of a modern, beautiful minimalistic artwork.
My husband and I thrashed out ideas for a long time. Eventually, we decided to try out laser cutting metal. We had to make many design decisions; colour, texture, contrast, minimalistic lines. I wanted it to be perfect.
Slowly, over time, the artwork started to take form, evolving in front of our eyes!!!
It took many years of development to refine the process and achieve the quality and design that we wanted. When we got there, eventually, it was all worth the effort. The portraits of the Gedolim we produced were truly stunning!
We didn’t even realize what we were doing. We were solving a problem we had in our home but we were actually solving a larger issue. When we received the positive feedback from others, who were amazed by our artwork, we realized we had created something unique that could help others who, like us, looked for a modern take on the famous photos of Gedolim.
I decided to invest in it and continued creating more artworks in order to make them accessible to all Jewish people. Without realizing it, I have become a fully-fledged artist! A most unique story, indeed… I believe.
I am still stepping into my persona and wonder where this ride will lead me.
What is your specialty?
I specialize in modern metal and acrylic Jewish portraits.
Our portraits are laser cut from stainless steel and laid over a background of black acrylic. They are framed with a thin solid frame and ready to hang.
The current subject of our portraits is Jewish religious leaders, Gedolim, representing all Jewish communities.
How and where do you work?
I work from home. My husband and I work as a team. I take care of the design and the creative aspect. My husband, an engineer, is responsible for the technical side of things.
As we are expanding our business and we are looking for a bigger space for assembly and storage.
What is the most indispensable item in your studio space?
My husband! As much as I am able to create the artworks from a graphic point of view, the technical side is just as challenging and he is the master.
Where do you take your inspiration? Are you pursuing any themes?
We take our inspiration from the Gedolim, the religious Jewish leaders. We are dedicated to making them accessible and relevant even in a modern home.
Do you do bespoke work?
Yes, we do bespoke work.
The artistic and technical representation is very time consuming and depends on the photograph that we are given to work with.
Anyone interested can find more information on the process and requirements on our website.
What projects are you currently working on?
We would like every religious Jew to find a Gadol from his community to put up in him home. This is a great task. For the moment we would like to significantly represent each of the major Jewish communities.
We have just finished our basic Sephardi Collection. We are now working to develop a collection of Chassidic Rabbonim for our customers from a Chassidic background.
What are your favourite items in your current collection?
The Steipler Gaon is my favourite artwork in our collection.
His presence is very strong and his artwork is extremely conceptual and detailed. As I look at his portrait up on my wall, I am amazed at his presence as a famous Rav as well as the artistic representation of a conceptual modern artwork unrelated to its Jewish roots.
Our latest upcoming artwork of Rav Sonnenveld, is also very conceptual while being very minimalistic. Meandering between and abstract and realistic.
How do you know when a piece is finished?
It’s hard to know but when I look at the image and it stares clearly back at me, I know it’s done
What was the first artwork you ever sold?
Our first artwork that we sold was also the first artwork we developed.
Rav Shach, the well-known Rosh Yeshiva of Ponevitch Yeshiva, Bnei Brak.
Which project have you enjoyed working on the most so far?
I have most enjoyed working on the portrait of the Chafetz Chaim.
The work on this artwork spanned over a year. It was a struggle to recreate this famous photo as a great modern metal artwork. I wanted to produce a superior product.
It took a long time and much mental and practical effort. I gave this specific project a rest and concentrated on other artworks. I revisited the portrait a year later and was able to see it in perspective, work on it with renewed energy and vision, thereby recreating the classic icon portrait of the Chafetz Chaim in its true grandeur.
What do you want to achieve with your work and what are your wishes for the future?
I would like to enable Jewish homes to incorporate their beloved and respected Jewish leaders who stand for their core values into their surroundings as in all other areas of their live.
Where can we find your work?
You can find our work on our website as well as on the various social media platforms and on our Etsy store.
Photos: Courtesy of Naama Goldberg