March 25 – April 16, 2017
Reception: March 26, 2 – 5 PM
The first words got polluted
Like river water in the morning
Flowing with the dirt
Of blurbs and the front pages.
My only drink is meaning from the deep brain,
What the birds and the grass and the stones drink.
Let everything flow
Up to the four elements,
Up to water and earth and fire and air.
—Seamus Heaney, “The First Words,” from the Romanian of Marin Sorescu
Rochelle Rubinstein’s exhibition, My Only Drink, consists of four works: Blood, Grass, Water, Wood.
The first two were originally part of a 24-panel installation, called Book of Job, which included hand-painted text and images of soldiers, birds, madonnas and horses. She printed, painted and carved red stripes over ten of the Job panels, and they became Blood. This piece is a celebration of womanhood in the context of present-day misogyny. It also connects to Rubinstein’s involvement in Blood, Milk and Tears, a collective of Muslim and Jewish women working with the subjects of menstruation, breastfeeding and mourning practices.
She transformed the remaining 14 panels into Grass, an aerial view of lush, green land. This piece emerges out of her advocacy work to protect natural grass fields and playgrounds from being replaced with toxic artificial turf.
Water consists of three layers. The first was a miscellaneous collection of block prints including bees, keening Irish women, and Rubinstein’s family in a refugee camp in Italy. Then she covered everything with the Hebrew text of the Orphan’s Kaddish, a mourning prayer. The final layer is an explosion of drops, representing tears, milk, and blood, as well as our precious Ontario aquifers that are being depleted by greedy corporations.
Last is Wood. As is her method, Rubinstein had every intention of adding layers and textures to the striped grid, but something kept stopping her. Finally, she realized there was already a completeness and an expression of solidarity in its simple lines.