Ora Lerman (1938-1998)

Best known for her colorful narrative paintings inspired by folk tales and Aesop’s Fables, Ora Lerman often drew on her personal collection of handmade toys and dolls acquired during her travels. They appear in her work as protagonists, delivering life’s most essential lessons.

Born in Campbellsville, Kentucky, of Russian Jewish parents, she earned a BA at Antioch College and an MFA at Pratt Institute. From 1971 to 1998, she was professor of art at Suffolk Community College.

During those years, she maintained active studios in New York City and Laceyville, Pennsylvania, where she had a country home. After her death in 1998, her Laceyville property became part of the Ora Lerman Charitable Trust, and since 2000 the trust has offered summer residencies through the Soaring Gardens Artists Retreat.

A dedicated activist for women in the arts, she was one of the founders of the New York chapter of the Women’s Caucus for Art and contributed a number of articles about women artists to ARTS magazine. She was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship for study in Japan (1963–65) and later studied in India under an International Exchange of Scholars (1989). Other awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation Regional Fellowship (1992), Reader’s Digest Artists-in-Residence in Giverny, France (1988), Pennsylvania State Council on the Arts Visual Arts Fellowship (1988), and Andrew Mellon Fellowship (1984).

Her impressive sixty-foot mural, Inside the Ark (199–95), commissioned by New York City’s Percent for Art program, is permanently installed in Public School 176 in Manhattan.

Telling Tales Exhibition
Where Are We Going/Where Have We Been? 1991, hand-ground oil on canvas, 27 x 54 inches

Where Are We Going/Where Have We Been? 1991, hand-ground oil on canvas, 27 x 54 inches

A traveling exhibition, featuring Lerman’s oil paintings, watercolors, drawings, Cibachromes, sculptures, and a selection of folk art from her collection; available beginning in the spring of 2018.

Ora Lerman’s bold, imaginative, and thought-provoking oeuvre is energized by her dynamic use of color, keen draftsmanship, and inventive storytelling. Ora Lerman: Telling Tales is a mini-retrospective of her paintings, watercolors, drawings, sculptures, and Cibachromes that spans the course of her thirty-year career, emphasizing seminal periods and recurring themes. The exhibition reveals her unique ability to combine personal history with universal fables, creating narratives that are original yet familiar as they cross generations and geographic boundaries. Lerman takes inspiration from a variety of sources as diverse as Aesop’s fables to the familiar fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, and from the creationist story of Eve in the Garden of Eden to the Indian goddess Yakshi, a symbol of fertility in the Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain faiths.

Lerman’s mythical narratives are merged with autobiographical elements. Born to Jewish parents from Eastern Europe, Lerman, a first-generation American, drew creative inspiration from her childhood and family history. In addition, her world travels as an adult, which included multiple trips to Mexico, India, and Europe, became an important source of inspiration and imagery in her paintings, works on paper, and sculptures. During these trips, Lerman collected handmade crafts, such as brightly painted, stylized wood animals and sculpted folk art figurines. These objects appear in her work as recurring characters, acting out her reconceived stories.

Who Are We/Where Are We Going? 1991, hand-ground oil on canvas, 27 x 54 inches

Who Are We/Where Are We Going? 1991, hand-ground oil on canvas, 27 x 54 inches

Ora Lerman: Telling Tales is a remarkably timely exhibition given recent cultural and political developments. In the art world, women artists, living and deceased and from diverse backgrounds, including Grace Hartigan, Sheila Hicks, Carmen Herrera, Ruth Asawa, and Sonia Gechtoff, to name a few, can now be found on the rosters of commercial galleries throughout the country. Similarly, female artists, previously relegated to the sidelines, are being rediscovered and celebrated by museums and galleries alike, including the Brooklyn Museum’s yearlong programming A Year of Yes: Reimagining Feminism, the traveling exhibition Women of Abstract Expressionism, and Hauser & Wirth’s inaugural show in Los Angeles, Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women, 1947–2016.

In the political sphere, Lerman, who was a feminist and advocate for women’s rights, places Eve and Lakshmi center stage in paintings that promote diversity and enculturation and resonate with questions that currently surround immigration. In her paintings, with titles like Who Are We and Where Are We Going, she is dogged by questions about society’s future, so apt today as America faces an identity crisis. In fact, Lerman’s life’s work was to reconcile her past and present, blend fact and fiction, and create her own narratives to build the world she desired. Her artistic journey was, in her own words, “integrating opposites”—something that remains profoundly important today—and is the legacy she has left us.

Download Exhibition Materials
Please contact exhibition@lermantrust.org

Work
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Oil Painting
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<em>Old Things Bloom in New Hands</em>, 1973, hand-ground oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches
<em>Campbellesville Days My Heart Belongs to Daddy</em>, 1982, hand-ground oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches
<em>How Do You Make the Intangible Tangible?</em> 1974–75, hand-ground oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches
<em>Make a Wish, If Birthday Boxes Only Bore New Persona</em>, 1975–76, hand-ground oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches
Trilogy: <em>Which Side of the Door of Dreams Do We Enter?</em> 1978–1980. Left to right: <em>Underwater Is a World without Picasso, Which Side of the Door of Dreams Do We Enter?, Sea Light Strokes Me and I Surrender Softly to Memory</em>, hand-ground oil on canvas 30 x 180 inches overall
<em>Last Chance for Foolishness, We’re Landing</em>, 1978–1981, hand-ground oil on canvas, 50 x 30 inches
<em>The Roles We Play, No Roller Sakes at Work</em>, 1979–80, hand-ground oil on canvas, 50 x 30 inches
<em>Fly Near the Sun Absorb the Heat, Become the Sun</em>, 1978–1980, hand-ground oil on canvas, 50 x 30 inches
<em>Red Comes to Wolf’s Bed and Transforms his Appetite</em>, 1982, hand-ground oil on canvas, 52 x 36 inches
Trilogy: <em>Memory Opens the Door to the Past and Stares Like a Voyeur</em>, 1984–85. Left to right: <em>Memory Opens the Door to the Past and Stares Like a Voyeur, Early Family Love Scenes Seem Like Old Matinee Serials Now</em>, Untitled (My Family Needed to Talk Loud in Several Languages, and All at Once), three watercolors, 72 x 224 inches overall
<em>Memory Opens the Door to the Past and Stares Like a Voyeur</em>, hand-ground oil on canvas, 35 x 130 inches
<em>We Paraded Around the House on Our Hands Clapping Our Heels</em>, hand-ground oil on canvas, 35 x 130 inches
<em>My Family Needed to Talk Loud in Several Languages, and All at Once</em>, hand-ground oil on canvas, 35 x 130 inches
<em>Mother, A Russian Tigress, Stopped Traffic on Jackson Street, Singing Arias in Strange Tongues</em>, 1985–86, hand-ground oil on canvas, 28 x 56 inches
<em>As the Sun Sets in Sidilkov, Eggs Become Golden Suns</em>, 1986, hand-ground oil on canvas, 36 x 52 inches
<em>In Times of Chaos, Look to the Food</em>, 1986, hand-ground oil on canvas, 36 x 48 inches
<em>The Golden Calf</em>, hand-ground oil on canvas, 40 x 60 inches
<em>Eden Is Anytime That Seemed Perfect</em>, 1988, hand-ground oil on canvas, 45 x 60 inches
<em>Even Night Is in Color in Eden</em>, 1988, hand-ground oil on canvas, 45 x 60 inches
<em>Paradise Needs Only Seeds and Water</em>, 1988, hand-ground oil on canvas, 45 x 60 inches
<em>Eden’s River Feeds the Streams of the Mind</em>, 1989, hand-ground oil on canvas, 48 x 60 inches
<em>Eve with a Song Led the Animals from Eden</em>, 1989, hand-ground oil on canvas, 45 x 60 inches
<em>Don’t Look Back</em>, 1990, hand-ground oil on canvas, 48 x 60 inches
<em>The Tree Godess Offers Free Color to New York</em>, 1991, hand-ground oil on canvas, 48 x 64 inches
<em>The Night of the Empire Purim Crown</em>, 1991, hand-ground oil on canvas, 32 x 28 inches
<em>The Tree Goddess Returns to New York</em>, 1990–1994, hand-ground oil on canvas, 48 x 64 inches
<em>Who Will Sow the Seeds</em>, 1991, hand-ground oil on canvas, 64 x 48 inches
<em>And She Knew his Sweet Kisses</em>, 1991–1994, hand-ground oil on canvas, 48 x 64 inches
<em>Fame Makes Art a Heavy Burden, Story of the Little Green Bridge</em>, 1991–1994, hand-ground oil on canvas, 64 x 48 inches
<em>Where Are We Going/Where Have We Been?</em> 1991, hand-ground oil on canvas, 27 x 54 inches
<em>Who Are We/Where Are We Going?</em> 1991, hand-ground oil on canvas, 27 x 54 inches
<em>Birds Dream About Flowers</em>, 1992, hand-ground oil on canvas, 60 x 45 inches
<em>Art Not Food/Freedom Not Food: Crow Finds Her Voice</em>, 1996–97, hand-ground oil on canvas, 48 x 36 inches
Watercolor
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<em>Trained As a Seamstress Mom Couldn’t Embroider Her Dreams</em>, 1976, watercolor and pencil, 18 x 24 inches
<em>One God for Another, What Price Prosperity?</em> 1977–1978, watercolor 12 x 18 inches
<em>Underwater Is a World Without Picasso</em>, 1977, watercolor and pencil, 24 x 18 inches
<em>Underwater Splendor Robs Me of All Ambition</em>, watercolor, 1978, 18 x 12 inches
<em>Which Side of the Door of Dreams Do We Enter?</em> 1978, watercolor, 24 x 18 inches
<em>In Letters We Reveal Our Demons</em>, 1978, watercolor, 5 x 7 inches
<em>Necessity Is the Mother of Invention</em>, 1979, watercolor, 14 x 11 inches
<em>Red Comes to Wolf’s Bed and Transforms his Appetite</em>, 1982, watercolor and pencil, 24 x 16 inches
<em>Memory Opens the Door to the Past and Stares Like a Voyeur</em>, 1984–85, watercolor, 24 x 72 inches
<em>Mother, a Russian Tigress, Stopped Traffic on Jackson Street, Singing Arias in Strange Tongues</em>, 1984–85, watercolor, 22 x 56 inches
Trilogy: <em>Geese Lay Golden Eggs in the Attic of Sidilkov</em>, 1984. Left to right: <em>Geese Lay Golden Eggs in the Attics of Sidilkov; Almost Born in the USSR, I Watch the Swapping of Gods from Afar; and Singled Out and Scared, I Was the Only Kid in Class Voting for Henry Wallace</em>, three watercolors, 24 x 60 inches overall
<em>The Attics of Sidilkov Harbour Geese and Secret Winter Dreams</em>, 1985, watercolor, 24 x 36 inches
<em>Elephant Becomes Clouds In Udaipur Shiv Niwas Palace</em>, 1989, watercolor, 16 x 60 inches
<em>Fame Makes Art a Heavy Burden, the Story of the Little Green Bridge</em>, 1990, watercolor, 59 ½ x 42 inches
<em>Leopard Brings in the Night</em> (study for tapestry), 1994, watercolor 16 x 24 inches
<em>Dog Give a Long Chase</em>, 1995, watercolor and pencil, 20 x 5 inches
<em>Two Mules</em>, 1995, watercolor and pencil, 20 x 15 inches
Drawing
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<em>Don’t Look Back</em>, 1989, charcoal, 30 x 40 inches
<em>Eve and Yakshi Are Sisters</em>, 1989, charcoal, 30 x 40 inches
<em>Eve with a Song Led the Animals from Eden</em>, 1989, charcoal, 40 x 60 inches
<em>Fame Makes Art a Heavy Burden</em>, 1990, charcoal, 59 ½ x 42 inches
<em>Leopard Brings in the Night</em>, 1994, charcoal, 16 x 24 inches
<em>Art Not Food</em>, 1996, charcoal, 24 x 18 inches
Sculpture
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<em>My Doll Had a Broken Finger and I Mended It</em>, 1978–1981, painted Hydrocal, 6 x 15 x 10 inches
<em>Frogs Speak Flowers When They’re Happy</em>, 1980, polychromed Hydrocal, 20 x 10 x 6 inches
<em>I Surrender Softly to Memory</em>, 1982, polychromed Hydrocal and wood, 17 x 20 x 7 inches
<em>The Golden Calf Mask</em>, 1986, painted Foam-Core, 36 x 36 x 24 inches
Cibachrome
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<em>Which Side of the Door of Dreams Do We Enter?</em> C. 1980, Cibachrome, 24 x 20 inches
<em>Red Comes to Wolf’s Bed</em>, 1981, Cibachrome, 24 x 20 inches
Inside The Ark Commission

In 1990, Ora Lerman received a New York City Percent for Art commission to create a work for Gruzan Samtonís newly designed Public School 176 in Manhattan. She painted a monumental, sixty-foot-long mural that was installed as a band around the four walls of the cathedral ceiling in the library. Prior to its installation in 1996, the mural was exhibited at the Joseph Gallery of Hebrew Union College in New York City. Lerman wrote the following article to be included in the catalogue created for the exhibition.

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<em>Inside the Ark, 1993-95, left panel, oil on canvas and hydrocal bas-reliefs, 46 x 162 inches and front panel, As the Flood Rises, Paint a Green Room, Dream a New Sun, oil on canvas, 69 x 184 inches</em>
<em>Inside the Ark: As the Flood Rises, Paint a Green Room, Dream a New Sun, 1993-95, front panel, oil on canvas, 69 x 184 inches</em>
<em>Inside the Ark, 1993-95, right panel, oil on canvas and hydrocal bas-reliefs, 46 x 162 inches</em>
<em>Inside the Ark</em>
<em>Inside the Ark: Invent Some Fresh Colors, A Palette of Purples to Herald the First Sign of Life, 1993-95, rear panel, oil on canvas, 69 x 184 inches</em>
<em>Inside the Ark</em>
<em>Inside the Ark</em>

The Brush

The brush paints the story, but inside the ark, the brush is part of the story. The animals are engaged in recreating the elements destroyed by the flood: the sun, the full and quarter moon, and the rainbow. Once this is done, and the creative process is complete, the animals return these forces to the sky, and the ark can land. The animals have used the brush to recreate the world.

The ark, isolated from worldly concerns, is a haven which allows reflection and nurtures the imagination. Inside the ark we see a rabbit sweep a brush across the face of the moon. Its motion creates the ark of the quarter moon, and the shape of the moon continues the gesture. The brush becomes the source of transformation.

Inside the Ark, 1993-95, right panel, oil on canvas and hydrocal bas-reliefs, 46 x 162 inches

To see the brush as an object, separate from its use, I needed to take a fresh look at it, to observe its typical gesture, as it pressed along the surface. The brush is like an extension of my hand. I use very soft sable brushes which I carefully maintain and know very well. Yet for all this familiarity, I realize that I don’t actually look at the brush. Generally, I don’t observe it’s motion or analyze its gesture. I experience it as part of the flow of the form I make and not as the focus of my painting.

I was startled, therefore, when I took a new look at the brush as a subject. I saw freshly how it moved, how the hair caught the light as it twisted and turned. How strange to make the process my subject and to cast the brush as an actor rather than stage hand. The brush personifies the act of painting, of creating, and finally of empowering. The brush as subject first emerges in my Tree Goddess series where she wears one in her headdress as she brings color to New York. It continues in the installation in Giverny where the Tree Goddess holds a brush as she paints blue dots on the Impressionist flowers.

The rabbit in the ark grasps a giant brush. This image recalls the impassioned Japanese calligrapher who, in a masterful public performance, grabs an oversized brush in both hands and hurls his body through space, stopping to press the brush against the surface of the mural-sized rice paper before sweeping on. The twisting motion of the stroke, formed with his whole body, is meant to express the spirit, “the chi”, of the artist, The torsion of the twist springs the spirit free. In fact, the “release of his spirit” becomes the real subject of the calligraphic painting. We are reminded of the Baroque idea that the twist is a loaded form. The brush, which can embody the twist, is as powerful and flexible as the hand that grasps it or the mind that conceives it. Like the figure, the brush as subject, contains a potential for movement, even when at rest.

After I painted the grand, white rainstorm just outside the ark, the mural felt almost complete but in need of one final image. Without a plan, I spontaneously introduced another brush, one reclining on the edge of the frame, partly in and partly out of the picture, as well as partly in and partly out of the ark. Afterwards, I realized I had positioned this last element, the brush, in a pose of rest. In so doing, I unwittingly created the illusion of having laid the brush down at the end of a day’s work. One could say that the image of the brush at rest states that the storm is over, the sun has been returned to the sky and the work is done.

Inside the Ark: Invent Some Fresh Colors, A Palette of Purples to Herald the First Sign of Life, 1993-95, rear panel, oil on canvas, 69 x 184 inches

Tapestry
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<em>Tapestry, based on a watercolor by Lerman. 
Untitled, 1994, wool and natural dyes, 4 x 6 feet, woven in Teotitlán del Valle, Mexico
</em>
<em>Lerman tapestry being made, based on one of her watercolors, in Teotitlán del Valle, Mexico, 1994</em>
<em>Leopard Brings In The Night</em>, Tapestry, 69 x 49 inches
Statement

Integrating Opposites

I have lived in both Eastern and Western, rural and urban settings; and I draw from these sources equally. I grew up in rural Kentucky of Russian parents. My journey has been about integrating opposites. The two years on a Japanese Fulbright at age twenty-five were very formative. I saw the global resources, both visual and conceptual, that were available to an open mind. In Japan, I studied the ink traditions of calligraphy and sumi-ye, which at first glance seemed an extension of my Abstract Expressionist background. I realize in retrospect that the encounter with the larger scope of Japanese art affected my thinking more deeply than just the understanding of style.

The Japanese culture teaches its audience to seek a subtext in its artwork, as the viewer translates the visual beauty into a narrative and symbolic reading. My interest in issues of “meaning” subverted my early formalist training. I began to be challenged by artwork that revealed itself in layers of narrative symbolism, and I aspired to consciously make such work my own.

Old Things Bloom in New Hands, 1973, hand-ground oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches

Old Things Bloom in New Hands, 1973, hand-ground oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches

When I returned to New York in the mid-1960s, I looked at Magritte again. This led me to work in a realistic mode, in order to paint about ideas and to communicate on two levels at once. Thus, I began to accrue the necessary skills and the vocabulary. To build a “world” is a slow, additive process, but I found that one must go backwards to move forward. In 1972, I felt iconoclastic when I integrated sentences into the borders of “high art” painting, made with traditional techniques: homemade Old Masters’ medium and hand-ground pigments. I believe I was the first to use whole sentences as part of illusionistic painting. Since I crossed that line, words have run parallel to images in my paintings. I realize that the early experience of decoding the poems in Japanese paintings stayed with me. In that context, words accompany images “associatively,” not “interpretively” [sic].

To develop a repertory of images, I have needed to visit, work, and explore symbols in key places on the globe. I have both borrowed and invented in order to create an iconography. My method is to paint from figures that I collect. In the process, I invent architectural structures in Fome-Cor to create a context. The chosen and constructed objects often look fantastic. By building them, their illogic takes on a tangibility. Afterwards, I render them realistically so as to substantiate their existence.

In my 1982 travels to Mexico, I began to work with its animal carvings. It became clear to me then that the latent content in folk imagery could create the potential for an ambiguous reading and provide the latitude for me to “play” with the characters. In developing an “alternative reading” of the narrative, I could create a sub-level that would serve to undermine the obvious accessibility of the work’s “realism.” As it happens, this subversion of the first level by the second one acts to place this traditionally made, illusionistic painting in a twentieth-century context, wherein disruption is a major component of mainstream art.

In the early 1980s I began to write for Arts Magazine. This helped me to get a distance from my work, so that while I was gathering wood to build the new foundation for my own thematic house, I could enlarge my scope by talking about “completed themes.” In 1983, I visited the Soviet Union to trace my roots and bear witness to the destruction of my family’s village. This journey gave rise to an autobiographical series, wherein I began to use my growing collection of Mexican and Russian artifacts to create a foundation for narrative. The venue shifted and widened when, in 1988, I received a Reader’s Digest six-month grant to Monet’s garden in Giverny. As I am interested in global, mythic connections, I found this to be a good context to develop images of Eden; after all, Monet was a product of the last century’s new urban exodus in search of the bucolic life.

The Tree Godess Offers Free Color to New York, 1991, hand-ground oil on canvas, 48 x 64 inches

The Tree Godess Offers Free Color to New York, 1991
hand-ground oil on canvas, 48 x 64 inches

My Fome-Core sculptures for my set-ups made during this residency led me to make a site-specific installation of oversized wisteria, set amongst the real wisteria on Monet’s bridge. I appropriated the “larger-than-life” iconic Japanese bridge as an Eden symbol to use in my paintings. I also developed symbols of an exiled Eve and the land of exile, expressed as a white place without color.

Afterwards, while on an Indo-American fellowship in 1989, I searched for Eve’s counterpart in India. I spent a three-month period painting in southern, rural India. In this landscape of coconut trees, I fashioned sculptures of this symbolically bountiful tree to use in the Eden paintings. I appropriated “Yakshi,” an Indian Tree Goddess figure. Actually, she is another face of Eve in that she bears a tree symbolism.

In my recent body of work since 1989, I have brought the Tree Goddess to New York, which, like the land of exile, is without color. The streets, buildings, and cars are all white. She comes to New York to act as a “greening” influence, a life-force in this colorless land. Similarly, I reenter New York from my travels with the hope of restoring color to its rightful place in Contemporary Art’s pantheon of values, by making my own art statement.

I have [had] a chance to “spread the word” with my new involvement in Public Art. In 1990, I received a large commission through New York Percent for Art, to make a series of murals and bas-reliefs for the library of a new public school near the Cloisters. In the spirit of the Cloisters’ Romanesque bestiary figures, I…incorporate my own animals in combination with the Tree Goddess in bas-reliefs around the library doors and, in turn, use these doorways in the murals. In other 1991 competitions, my mural proposals came in [among] the top six when I was a “final finalist” for the Philadelphia International Airport [commission]. I was a finalist as well for a school in Maine and a housing project in Maryland. In the Philadelphia and New York paintings, the Tree Goddess becomes a pivotal figure.

The Tree Goddess may be the first female to be cast in the trickster’s role. She dares to offer free color to New York. As the painting’s trickster-protagonist, she is the odd element in the narrative, who makes the norm seem abnormal, just as she makes white seem colorless. The Tree Goddess character, as a front for the artist, is playful about serious matters. She as a greening influence that I have created and “brought” to New York perhaps ultimately acts as the synthesizer of my rural-urban, East-West dual history.

— Ora Lerman 1990

Resume

Education

1960BA, Fine Arts, Antioch College, Yellow Springs, OH
1961–63Brooklyn Museum Art School, NY
1963–65Fulbright Fellowship, private studies in calligraphy and sumi-ye, Tama Art University, Japan
1969MFA, Painting, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY, with art history studies, Columbia University, New York, NY

Teaching

1971–1998Professor of Art, Suffolk Community College, Selden, NY

Selected Collections

Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
Brooklyn Museum, NY
Jewish Museum, New York, NY
National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC

Awards

1963Fulbright Award, Japan
1970, 1972Outstanding Young Women of America Award
1972, 1974,
1976, 1977
State University of New York Research Grant in Painting

1977MacDowell Colony Fellowship
1978CAPS Finalist, New York State Council for the Arts
1979Lerman watercolor presented to Isabel Bishop at White House related ceremony
1980Ossabaw Island Foundation Fellowship
1984Andrew Mellon Fellowship
1988Pennsylvania State Council on the Arts Grant: Visual Arts Fellowship
1988Reader’s Digest Artists in Residence, Giverny, France
1989International Exchange of Scholars: Indo-American Fellowship, India
1992National Endowment for the Arts: Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation Regional Fellowship

Commissions

1990–95Percent for Art mural with bas-relief, P.S. 176, New York, NY
1991Finalist, Philadelphia International Airport
1991Lithograph, The Night of the Empire Fellowship Purim Crown, The Jewish Museum, New York, NY

Selected Solo Exhibitions

1971Prince Street Gallery, New York, NY
1974Prince Street Gallery, New York, NY
1977“Women Artist Series,” Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ (NEA sponsored)
Prince Street Gallery, New York, NY
1982Bernice Steinbaum, New York, NY, (catalogue with essay by Ann Sutherland Harris)
1988Poulain Museum, Vernon, France
1995The Joseph Gallery, “Inside the Ark,” New York, NY
Anita Shapolsky Gallery, “Inside the Ark,” New York, NY

Selected Group Exhibitions

1974“New Talent Show,” Alan Stone Gallery, New York, NY
“Invitational,” Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, NY
1975“Invitational – Fulbright,” Union Carbide Gallery, New York, NY
“Sons and Others: Women Artists See Men,” Queens Museum, Flushing, NY (traveled to five New York State museums)
1976“Works on Paper,” Brooklyn Museum, NY
“Year of the Woman Reprise,” Bronx Museum, NY
1977“Invitational,” J.B. Speed Museum, Louisville, KY
1978“Fourteen Still Life Painters,” Forum Gallery, New York, NY (traveled to Ringling Museum, Sarasota, FL)
“From the Imagination,” Green Mountain Gallery, New York, NY
1979“Women and Autobiography,” Rutgers University Gallery, New Brunswick, NJ
“International Women Artists,” Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Netherlands (traveled to six Dutch museums)
1981“The Women Artists Series, Retrospective Show,” A.I.R. Gallery, New York, NY
1982Forum Gallery, New York, NY
“Painted Light,” Queens Museum, Flushing, NY (traveled to Allentown Museum, PA)
1983Bernice Steinbaum Gallery, New York, NY
1984“The First Eight Years,” The Artists’ Choice Museum, New York, NY
1985“Costume, Masks and Disguises,” The Clocktower, New York, NY
1986“Jewish Themes: Contemporary American Artists,” Jewish Museum, New York, NY
1987“Heresies: Issues That Won’t Go Away,” PPOW Gallery, New York, NY
“Connections Project,” Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art, New York, NY
“Women and Watercolor,” Transco Gallery, Houston, TX
1988Poulain Museum, Vernon, France
“Committed to Prints,” Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
“The Experienced Eye,” Owensboro Museum of Fine Arts, KY
1989“Hard Choices/Just Rewards,” Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (traveling exhibit of work by recipients of visual arts fellowships)
1990“Fantastic Journeys,” Staller Center for the Arts, SUNY Stony Brook, NY
1992“Humor with Color,” Union Art Gallery, Stony Brook, NY
1993“Animal Magnetism,” 380 Gallery, New York, NY
1994“Masks,” Pelham Art Center, Pelham, NY
“Ticket Art,” Organization of Independent Artists, Brooke Alexander Gallery, New York, NY
“The Narrative Edge,” Pelham Art Center, Pelham, NY

Selected Bibliography

Campbell, Lawrence. “Exhibition Review.” ArtNews, November 1971.
Schwartz, Laura. “Exhibition Review.” Arts Magazine, November 1972.
Gruen, John. “Review.” Soho Weekly News, October 31, 1974.
Moore, Sylvia. “Review.” Feminist Art Journal, Spring 1977.
Sievert, Robert. “Exhibition Review.” Arts Magazine, Summer 1977.
Sievert, Robert. “Review.” Womanart, Summer 1977.
Frackman, Noel. “Exhibition Review.” Arts Magazine, November 1984.
Campbell, Lawrence. “Ora Lerman at P.M. and Stein.” Art in America, November 1982.
Marter, Joan. “Narrative Painting, Language, and Ora Lerman’s Trilogies.” Arts Magazine, May 1982.
Gill, Susan. “The Women’s Movement in Art, 1986.” Arts Magazine, September 1986.
Tufts, Eleanor. American Women Artists, Past and Present: A Bibliography. Shrewsbury, MA: Garland Press, 1986.
Wallach, Amei. “At the Jewish.” New York Newsday, July 25, 1986.
Alexander, Ron. “The Evening Hours.” New York Times, March 20, 1987.
Lipson, Karin. “Artistic Idyll in Giverny,” Newsday, May 1988.
“New Villa Medicis.” Antiquities, Beaux-Arts, Curiosities, June 1988.
“Monet at Giverny.” Le Parisien Libere, June 4, 1988.
“A Ville Medicis at Giverny.” Paris – Normandie, June 4, 1988.
“To the Side of Claude Monet’s House.” Le Figaro, July 26, 1988.
“Some American Painters at Giverny.” Le Monde, August 1, 1988.
“In Love with Indian Arts.” The Hindu, September 1988.
Ketcham, Diane. “In Monet’s Gardens.” New York Times, January 15, 1989.
“Combining Mysticism with Simplicity.” The Hindu, July 7, 1989, 20.
Erhardt, Karleen. “A Contemporary Eden, Giverny.” Connections, A SUNY Review, 1989, 22–23.
Sidon, Weslea. “Ora Lerman: Seeing Past Surfaces.” The Women’s Record, Women in the Arts, March 1990.
Ferrière, L. “Ora Lerman Lauréate de la Bourse Reader’s Digest.” Le Democrate, July 11, 1990.
Braff, Phyllis. “Different Kinds of Mental Journeys.” New York Times, October 21, 1990, 21.
Slavitt, Corey. “Ora Lerman: Keeping Society in Touch with Its Own Esthetic.” Antioch Forum, 1990–1991, 4–5.
Fisher, Robert I. C. “Giverny Revisited.” American Artist, November 1991.
“Visual Arts Fellowship Winners.” ArtsInk, Spring/Summer 1992, 4.
Raynor, Vivien. “Artists Amid Industrial Panache in Stamford.” New York Times, November 15, 1992, 22.
Raynor, Vivien. “Getting a Grip on Dreams and Fantasies.” New York Times, February 27, 1994, 14.
Abrams, Carol K. “Thee Exhibits Unveiled Greenwich Village.” Cleveland Jewish News, June 18, 1995.
Brodsky, Sascha. “Story of Flood Becomes a Mural.” The Villager, June 28, 1995.
Mathews-Berenson, Margaret. “Adapting the Medium of the Master.” American Artist, September 1996, 24–29, 79–82.
Milford, Matthew. “Ora Lerman at Hebrew Union College and Anita Shapolsky.” Art in America, January 1996, 95–96.

Articles by Ora Lerman

1981“Claire Falkenstein,” Women’s Caucus for Art (awards and exhibition catalogue), 18.
1982“Clair Falkenstein Completes the Circle,” Arts Magazine, January 1982, 64–67.
“Elsie Driggs,” Women’s Caucus for Art (awards and exhibition catalogue), 8–9.
1984“Soviet Artists Make Open Form an Escape Route in a Closed Society,” Arts Magazine, February 1984, 115–119.
1985“Autobiographical Journey: Can Art Transform Personal and Cultural Loss,” Arts Magazine, May 1985, 103–111.
1986“From Close-Up to Infinity: Reentering Georgia O’Keefe’s World,” Arts Magazine, May 1986, 80–83.
1988“Contemporary Vanitas,” Arts Magazine, March 1988, 60–63.
1989“Enclosure, Layering: Japanese Painter Minoru Kawabata,” Arts Magazine, October 1989, 67–71.
1990“The Elusive Subject: Joan Mitchell’s Abstraction of Landscape Reflects her Study of Van Gogh,” Arts Magazine, September 1990, 42–46.

Catalogue

I Gave You My Song – The Art of Ora Lerman

A 110 page full color catalogue for the 2001-2002 exhibition of the same name. I Gave You My Song is available for sale $25. + shipping.
Please contact David Ostwald for more information.

I Gave You My Song, front cover, Tree Goddess Offers Free Color to New York, 1991




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