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Mikveh #3, 2022




1 of 6 in the Mikveh series. Framed collage. Painted with natural pigments. The Mikveh is a traditional Jewish ritual that has always interested me. As a secular Jewish woman, I have never participated in this ritual myself, but I feel drawn to the idea. A mikveh is most commonly known as a bath to be taken at the end of a menstrual cycle, but it can also be used to signify an important event, or serve as a cleansing ritual at the end of a painful or traumatic experience. The bath itself, often housed within a synagogue, looks like a small plunge pool, and is filled with mayim chayim, or “living waters” - water collected from rainfall, blessed, and purified. The idea of cycles - of death and rebirth, decay and regeneration - is everywhere in our world and in all living things. Lunar cycles, menstrual cycles, and life cycles are all connected. It’s perhaps no accident that the lunar cycle matches up with the monthly menstrual cycle. That the iron in our blood is the same as in the core of the Earth that rotates on an axis, bringing the sequence of nights and days and allowing all things to grow. I see the mikveh as a cyclical reset connecting the body to something experiential, environmental, geological, and celestial. Or, in another way, a healing submission to all that is unknown and all that is to follow. This series, made from collaged materials and natural colorants on paper, portrays plunge pools surrounded by a frame of darkness. It attempts to reframe the traditional mikveh as a process where we might submit and submerge ourselves into all that we do not understand - as well as to the cycles of change, the endings of things, and the rebirths to follow.

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painting | mixed media | work on paper


8.50 x 12.00 x 2.00 in | 21.59 x 30.48 x 5.08 cm

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Julia Norton

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