Abrasha (b. 1948)
fabricated stainless steel, sterling silver, and 24K gold
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
Happy Chanukah to all my Jewish friends! Chanukah, which begins at sundown this evening, commemorates the Maccabee rebellion against the Greeks. According to the Talmud, once the Greeks had been driven from the Temple in Jerusalem and the Maccabees had restored it, they looked for ritually purified olive oil to light a menorah to rededicate the Temple. Unfortunately, they found just enough for one day, but miraculously, the small amount of oil lasted eight days, while more oil was pressed and purified. For this reason, the Chanukah menorah (properly called a chanukiah) holds eight candles (regular menorahs hold only seven), plus a ninth "servent candle" used to light the others. (This chanukiah holds cups for oil instead of candles, but the principle is the same.)
This menorah is from the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, which has a wonderful collection of American crafts permanently on display at the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C. The Renwick is quite possibly my favorite Smithsonian museum. Most of the others are overwhelmingly large, and feel rather impersonal; the Renwick, by contrast, is small and intimate. Plus, I really like crafts, perhaps because I have no particular talent for them.
An article about the artist and the creation of this chanukiah can be found in J. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California.