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 Wood & Found Objects     27 figures, each 78" x 24" x 24"     1992

The Chosen began with the tens of thousands of Jews who were expelled from Spain in 1492, during the Spanish Inquisition. But rather than create another "historic commemoration", as in 1992's Columbus quincentennary, I wanted The Chosen to speak about the Expulsion only as the spark which lit the next 500 years of Sephardic enlightenment.

The Chosen was a suite of work consisting of twenty-seven figures, each being six-and-one-half feet tall and sarcophagus-shaped, with a "chest cavity" that opened to reveal information about that person. The work used the lives of 26 real persons or families, such as writer Emma Lazuras, Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cordozo, and philosopher Baruch Spinoza to trace the Sephardic immigration around the world. The lighted displays were almost shrine-like in their appearance and function, for inside each figure was a tableau which illustrated some aspect of that person's life, featuring small found-objects, prints and assorted other materials. Across the "facial" area of each figure was printed a historical account of their life and accomplish
ments; these stories were printed on a glossy surface that reflected the face of the reader as the texts were studied. The individuals portrayed had been selected for what they can teach us of the Sephardim; many are well known, even famous, while others are "historical footnotes." Their commonality rests in their ability to illustrate the inner drive and perseverance of these remarkable refugees. Thorough research enabled the reconstruction of these personalities, and the detailing was fairly authentic: who they were and what type of day-to-day lives they might have led, consistent with their social standing, financial resources, educational opportunities, and the like. When viewed in its entirety, The Chosen delivered a broad understanding of not only the historical events in these people's lives, but also of what it has meant to be Sephardic, in all of its contexts.

The twenty-seventh figure, The Nameless Martyred, represents all of the thousands of individuals who were executed for their beliefs and remain unknown. The interior chest cavity becomes an ark for the enclosed scroll, while the abused and marred outer figure suggests the physical torture they endured.

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