Leah L-Rubin

BFA NYS College of Ceramics - Alfred University, Alfred , New York

MFA Rutgers University - Mason Gross School of the Arts, New Brunswick, New Jersey

Art Educator at Marymount School of New York, New York 

Clay artist at City Potters - A working studio in the heart of Chelsea

Artist Statement

What is the cultural impact, functional importance, and visual significance of a pillow? And why Yiddish, a language without a country? For me, the pillow is not a supplemental accent in an interior. It is a blank canvas providing an inviting place to express thoughts and feelings. It is a place of comfort, security, and repository for the relief of existential angst. That's where the Yiddish fits in.

Connecting to an ancient Chinese porcelain tradition is invigorating as a contemporary artist. A pillow is so much more than a sleeping aid filled with feathers, memory foam or, as in ancient China, an aid to a cool night's sleep. Sleeping on porcelain pillows was a fascinating trend across many Chinese dynasties until newer materials became available. These uncomfortable porcelain pillows were used to protect a woman's hairdo while she slept and widely believed to help a person's eyesight and clarity of thought. They also carried auspicious meanings, were used as wedding gifts, to ward off evil spirts, and came in a multitude of shapes. Commonly used by the imperial court as burial wares, archeological discoveries reveal that pillows held multiple functions. Originally made with extreme skill, pillows were produced in ceramic complexes all over China from the Tang and Song dynasties from 600 A.D. to 1279 A.D. as highly treasured objects of art. Moving beyond the burial tomb, porcelain pillows had multiple meanings depending on their design and included an esteemed place for the Song literati to engrave and illustrate poetry, Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism. Mine combine them with the wit of Jewish daily life from Eastern Europe dating back to the 10th century. It is their owners' spirituality and acts of encouragement for life that are direct-crossovers to world weary Yiddish proverbs illustrated on my pillows thereby honoring two traditions in one visual format.

I hope my porcelain and stoneware pillows continue this honored ancient Chinese ceramic tradition infused by timeless Yiddish wisdom, connecting different cultures in one human visual configuration.