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The artist's primary interest is in exploring the human body's relationship to the earth, sky and larger forces of the cosmos — a concern that fits with designing a memorial. "Those who have passed are still among us — that's what I tried to achieve with this piece," Albuquerque says. "I love that you can see the blue of the wall through the doors of the sanctuary when you look back here from the stage. It's as if they [the deceased] are embracing the congregation. There is an endless flow of names in a subtle, honeycomb pattern, which harkens back to minimalist art at the same time that it evokes a thriving, rich community."
Jenny Holzer's Truisms, artworks that present provocative aphorisms such as "Abuse of power comes as no surprise" and "Raise boys and girls the same way," first came to attention in the late 1970s in the form of T-shirts, posters and stickers; they have since moved to more inventive formats and high-profile locations, such as a marquee in Times Square.
One format that has been increasingly popular is the public bench, typically using a heavy traditional stone like granite or marble, engraved with a customized grouping of Truisms. Wilshire Boulevard Temple's campus will be getting about a dozen of these benches, made variously out of Chinese Noir St. Laurent marble, black and gold marble and Pennsylvania Bluestone.
Leder, an avid Holzer fan, points out that her work evokes the Jewish reverence for text. He and Holzer's team are working together to generate bench inscriptions. "The writing will range from thoughtful to playful to mystical to goofy," Holzer says in an email. "May I leak a text under consideration? 'If you are a mensch, you can sit on this bench.' "
The artists welcomed the opportunity to work in the nontraditional setting; Albuquerque calls the temple "magnificent" and Holzer says she was a "goner" from the moment she saw the Byzantine Revival sanctuary dome.
Albuquerque also praises Leder's attempt "to break down the walls between areas of life that we falsely think are separate," she says. "Art and religion are both philosophical inquiries. When I go to a museum, it's like being in a temple for me."
Wilshire Boulevard Temple is at 3663 Wilshire Blvd., Koreatown. (213) 388-2401, wbtla.org.