Sh’ma: Stories in Silk Artwork by Catherine Stern | Osher Marin Jewish Community Center

Sh’ma: Stories in Silk Artwork by Catherine Stern

Sun, October 7, 2018 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

The sacred writings of the Torah are imprinted on this series of silk artworks.

Stories in Silk Artwork by Catherine Stern

The Osher Marin JCC is excited to present a new exhibit of hand-dyed silk artworks by the textile artist, Catherine Stern. These multi-layered silks are imprinted with the images and text that revel in the unabashed beauty of the Song of Songs, and in the timeless wisdom of traditional Jewish prayers and of modern Jewish thinkers. This series is inspired by ancient glass, and includes visual elements from Islamic design and tilework to echoes of Gustav Klimt’s gilded romanticism.

The opening reception will feature artist’s comments and Q & A, live music and light refreshments on Sunday October 7th from 2-4 PM

Sh’ma: Stories in Silk will run through January 1, 2019.


From the time I was very young, I’ve been fascinated by textiles. I love the feeling of raw fiber flowing through my fingers when I spin, I love immersing fiber and fabrics in dye, and I especially love working with silk, which absorbs color in jewel tones. The silk organza in this body of work has an open weave, it is transparent, and perfect for building layers of colors that play with light, not unlike glass.

Stories in Silk Artwork by Catherine Stern My artwork turned in the direction of Judaica when the Osher Marin JCC hosted a show of Emerging Jewish Artists in around 2005. At the time, I was taking macro photos of flowers. One in particular--an elegant white tulip with late afternoon light silhouetting the tall stamen exposed by a fallen away front petal--looked to me as if it was a person under a tallis, as if in a nave or in sacred space. Marsha Falk, the artist, poet and Jewish scholar, was at the show of my photos and suggested I look to Midrash and the Song of Songs for a title to convey what I felt. “He Wrapped Himself in a Robe of Light and it Began to Shine” became the title and with that, the focus of my work took a new direction.

This new body of textile art was inspired by a lecture on ancient glass of the Holy Land at the De Young Museum some years ago. My goal has been to capture the quality of glass in my medium: silk. I’ve been inspired by words from Jewish prayers, stories, and text, and have paired them with images, many of them with Islamic design elements. The words have led me to research, to read and listen, and finally to dream until the pieces tell me what they want to become. Do the words or images come first? For me, they alternate.

I’m fascinated too, by the Hebrew alphabet, each letter conveys myriad meanings and resonates power, so they too are often incorporated in the pieces. I’ve chosen words of love, of compassion, inclusiveness and oneness. They are invitations to explore.


Catherine Stern was born in Upstate New York to Brooklyn-born parents and raised in Palo Alto. She majored in art at San Francisco State University with an emphasis in textile art and began experimenting with dyes on silk as a student.

Her work has been exhibited in Marin, and Maine, in the group show of Emerging Jewish Artists at the Osher Marin JCC and in one person shows at the Austin, TX. JCC, the Berkeley Photo Shop, and Red Oak Realty Community Art Gallery.

Location: Kurland, Stairwell, Gallery

Free, RSVP: