Jewish Life at Duke

Shin Tree of Life Plaque
In honor of Larry Moneta
from the Jewish Life at Duke Advisory Board
8″ x 9″ x 1″  Copper, Brass, Peroba 2019

The Jewish Life at Duke Advisory Board commissioned this artistic plaque for Larry Moneta, who has given an inordinate amount of his time, energy and resources to Jewish Life at Duke University. All elements of this piece were handmade in my San Francisco California metal arts studio— using classical metal smithing techniques such as cutting with a jeweler’s saw, filing, silver soldering, stamping, and patina.

This warm and rustic Shin Tree of Life design in copper, brass and Peroba wood highlights the deep Jewish values in caring for the earth, balanced with our holy obligation of Tikkun Olam— healing the world. In Judaism, the Tree of Life is also a symbol for the Torah, the gift of life, abundance, and gratitude for nature.   The Hebrew Letter shin is depicted in the branches.  Shin is the 21st letter in the Hebrew alphabet— here it stands for peace (Shalom), to hear in your heart (Shma), the feminine presence of G-d (Shekkina) and the nurturing aspect of G-d (Shaddai.) 

The copper and brass were oxidized with a rich patina to maximize the deep autumn hues inherent in these elemental forms. The metal has been waxed and shined to maintain this finish over time.  I chose Peroba wood from Brazil to mount the copper on—it is endangered and can no longer be harvested. It came from a barn that is over 100 years old.   It contrasts nicely with the copper. It feels substantial, is dense and heavy and has a beautiful naturally aged patina.  The wood has been sanded with fine sand paper, and sealed. 

This piece is versatile, it has two removable copper dowels that act as a stand on the back so that it can sit on a table top or desk. The copper dowels can be removed so that the piece can be mounted on the wall.  To care for this art, avoid keeping it outside or in direct sunlight.  To clean it, simply dust with a soft, lint free, clean cloth.