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Harriet Goren

I’m a graphic designer specializing in identity, print, and Web design. In 2011, after years away from creating art by hand, I began to play with Hebrew letters and color.

Why did I start making these prints? The answer involves some history. As a teenager with serious doubts about religion, I stopped attending the Orthodox synagogue where my family belonged. A lifelong choral singer, I had already fallen in love with Bach, Brahms, and other sacred music in amateur choirs, certain I was connecting to something greater than myself — something decidedly non-Jewish. It was confusing, to say the least.

Then, one day, I took the advice of a friend and went to a synagogue known for its dynamic musical services, and a funny thing happened: I liked it. The rabbis’ words from the bima and the community’s commitment to social justice were, to my surprise, relevant and about real life, my life. I became an active member, and pursued my love of singing by learning how to chant Torah. I soon discovered that each Torah scroll has a slightly different and quirky personality based on the handwriting of its sofer, its scribe, and the designer part of me looked forward to seeing the shapes and rhythms of those words week after week.

I tried to imagine what other texts and prayers, and their music, would look like. I love typography and began to experiment with Hebrew letterforms drawn in pencil and ink and combined with color on the computer. (Please see the F.A.Q. page for more information about the process.) The resulting art is not always legible, or meant to be read literally, but rather tries to capture through shape and gesture how I experience some of my favorite Hebrew texts.

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