Client: Temple Beth Tikvah
Location: Madison, CT, United States
Completion date: 2022
Artwork budget: $60,000
Linda Cummings Studio
Linda Cummings Studio
The creation of the Ark Doors for the renovation of Temple Beth Tikvah in Madison, CT was an opportunity to bring to fruition the congregation’s wish for a monumental work of art that inspires worshipers, preserves and protects the sacred Torah. Through its aesthetic and material form, the large glass 10-ft x 7-ft Ark Doors glow with the colors of sunrise on the surface of water while reflecting the spiritual aspiration and connection to water that embodies the spirit of this shoreline community.
As a photographer, my challenge was to create not just an inspirational image, but the experience of transcendence. I chose glass for its unique lens-like visual properties of transparency, opacity and its capacity for trans-illumination. Utilizing a unique filtration process, I was able to separate the light spilling over the surface of the ocean at sunrise into its prismatic components – the way an impressionistic painter might have done with a brush at the dawn of photography. A photographic interlayer was fused between planes of tempered glass to produce intricate detail and color to represent the spirit, vibrancy and formal elements of the original scene.
The Ark is the centerpiece of the Temple Beth Tikvah’s sanctuary. The Ark Doors I created provide both a physical and symbolic gateway into an experience in which aesthetic form combined with sacred rituals renew the human spirit. A personal connection is made through the interaction of tradition, community, voice, light, image, materiality and touch. When a human hand moves to open the large glass Ark Door, the worshipper is bathed in light and leans into the Mystery. Sliding the glass Ark Doors open reveals the Torah. The Word and worshippers are united in this process. Desire for connection and meaning are thus renewed and replenished within the totality of the experience.
Active collaboration with the 12-member sanctuary committee, interior design team and project managers, was central to the development and success of this project. Our frequent meetings provided the opportunity for everyone on the committee to collectively and individually imagine and express their vision and desired impact of the Ark Doors. Through continued photographic experimentation and listening to their process of articulation and further clarification, I responded by making a photograph of the sparkle of morning light moving across surface of the sea that all agreed captured the essence of their vision.
Key collaborators for the design phase were Roz Cama, of Cama Design, Rob Jacoby, chair of the Sanctuary Committee, Temple project managers Bruce Topolofsky and John Lesage, and Eduardo Santana, a member of my team. As the project took shape, Mark Toth, of Skyline Design played a critical role in the fabrication of the glass. Installation of the Ark Doors is provided by John Wetmore of Cherry Hill Glass. Lighting consultation was provided by CBB Lighting and the architect of record is Duo Dickenson. Installation of the already fabricated Ark Doors is scheduled for January 2022.