The beautiful artwork on the cover of this month’s Edmonton Jewish News is entitled “Tree of Life” and it is the creation of Helen Muskal, a very talented artist who has been a long time member of our community.
Helen was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After graduating high school she spent a year in Israel studying Hebrew, traveling and painting. Helen was a member of an artists’ group on the kibbutz and recalls, “The brilliant Mediterranean light created a vivid palette of colours that I never believed could exist.” She returned to the United States and earned a B.A. in Studio Arts and Art History.
In 1981, Helen moved to Canada and lived in Toronto where she refined her painting techniques as a student of abstract painter Gershon Iskowitz. She also studied advanced colour theory and printmaking at the Art College of Ontario. She has been living in Edmonton since 1985.
Helen says, “When I paint I think about colour and forms and how they interact, creating planes on the surface of the paper or canvas. I also like my art to have deeper meaning and my imagination is stirred by Jewish symbolism and my interest in exploring and expressing my Jewish heritage.”
Helen has studied Jewish History and her artwork reflects this. She has illuminated and written the Hebrew calligraphy for many ketubot.
About the cover image Helen explains, “The inspiration for the “Tree of Life” painting is a combination of my love of the Book of Breisheit in the Torah, and my love of my daughter, Eva. I wanted to depict a wide eyed portrait of Eva as a child in the roots of one of the most famous, and well recorded images in Jewish History, the Tree of Life.
“I remember a story that is found in the Midrash about the Garden of Eden, that says the roots of all the trees in the Garden were connected to the original Tree of Life. A hearty underground stream provided nourishment to the Tree, and circulated throughout the entire garden. It carried and planted its seeds, as well as sustaining the new saplings that popped up through the rich soil. I chose this powerful image because it symbolizes the Jewish theme of growth and renewal.”
Helen earned a Bachelor of Education from the University of Alberta and has worked as an art specialist and music specialist at various levels of education. In recent years, she has been involved in writing and developing art curriculum for use in the classroom. She has also been honing her talent as a painter and designing custom jewellery.
Helen’s art has evolved over the past 30 years. She has had numerous public and private art exhibitions and her art is part of several corporate, institutional, public and private collections.
For more information about Helen Muskal or to view her art, direct an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.