Detroit native Lynn Rae Lowe reconnects with Temple Beth El through her new seven-panel art installation that depicts the seven days of Creation.
Photos by Jerry Zolynsky
Temple Beth El Rabbi Mark Miller and artist Lynn Rae Lowe agree it was bashert — meant to be — for her to return to her roots to create a seven-panel art installation in the temple’s Maas Chapel.
Lowe is an award-winning artist, whose art pieces, often in metal, are enjoyed by individuals and museums nationally. She is best known for Judaica, including her popular menorahs, tzedakah boxes and mezuzot, and for more abstract visual art.
Miller became familiar with Lowe’s work through his mother, who owned some of her pieces, and recognized her work when he visited a Tucson art studio. It turned out to be Lowe’s studio and he began collecting her work almost 20 years ago. Early on, he thought about commissioning artwork from her when he had a congregation of his own.
Fast forward to when Miller became senior rabbi at Beth El and he was holding a pre-bar mitzvah meeting with bar mitzvah boy Max Morganroth in his study. Max noticed some of the artwork there and said it was created by his aunt — Lynn Rae Lowe. The coincidences expanded when Lowe returned to Detroit four years ago for her niece’s bat mitzvah and reconnected with Miller and Temple Beth El, where she spent much of her childhood, singing in the choir at Beth El’s former Woodward and Gladstone building in Detroit.
Miller reconfirmed his interest in commissioning a work of art for the temple and began planning for it. Beth El members Dr. Laurence and Maxine Baker of Ann Arbor committed to funding the project.
Miller showed Lowe three potential spaces at Beth El for an art installation. One was a large white wall in the Maas Chapel, which she felt called out for a multi-panel installation. Immediately, Lowe thought of the seven days of Creation and she began her work.
Then tragedy struck about a year ago when Lowe’s son Bradley Swartz, a Detroiter, was badly injured in a car accident. Lowe visited him often while working on the Beth El art project. “It helped me and provided a space of hope,” she says.
Her work was completed this year. Each panel is activated aluminum. Lowe used this process to prepare the metal “to catch the dyes” that create the images. A hand-held device grinds the base of the panel before the dyes are applied. Lowe uses stencils, hand-painting and engraving to create the images. A powder coating creates a sense of movement, she says
The art installation, Seven Days of Creation, was dedicated Sept. 21. Miller read the biblical description of each of the seven days of Creation as each unique panel was unveiled for temple members. Lowe was pleased viewers saw different symbols and images within each abstract panel.
“Each panel has a center of light. We are the light of the world and it is our job to take care of it,” Lowe says. She will return home to Tucson for the High Holidays to sing in the choir at her temple — Congregation Or (“light” in Hebrew) Chadesh.