“The Devils on My Shoulders,” 2019, etching/aquatint/drypoint, 18″ x 12″
One of the particular Jewish articulations of that responsibility, within the context of human free will and human choice, is found in a rabbinic discussion of what is articulated in Genesis 6:5 and 8:21 “the evil inclination”—with an imperative to choose good over evil. The midrashic engagement of this notion concretizes those inclinations as little angelic/demonic beings that rest on our shoulders at all times, contending with each other to convince us to the right—or the wrong—thing. Weinstein’s “The Devils on My Shoulders” directly references that notion in an even more expressionistic image, the artist herself four-eyed (literalizing that phrase used by some to refer to those who wear glasses, and perhaps punning on the idea that those with less acute outer vision may often be blessed with better than 20/20 inner vision), the creatures on her shoulders almost more comedic than serious.
But the artist’s spiky hair and attenuated, bony hands—and are there three of these, or is that one on the upper right of the image the hand of someone else, manipulating one of these little devils?—and the overall stridency of the tightly crowded composition suggest an intense embrace of the ongoing human problem of how to be in the world, of how to do good works and not oppress others, of how to balance between the world and one’s self and the range of possibilities and necessities that extend between those two poles of what each of us is.
Joyce Ellen Weinstein was born in 1940 and raised in NYC. She received her MFA degree from the City College of New York, attended classes at The Brooklyn Museum Art School and The Art Students League of NYC, and received fellowships to Vermont Studio Center, Mishkenot Sha’ananim, Jerusalem, Israel; The Social-Cultural Center, Prague, Czech Republic; Blue Mountain Art Center, New York State and Europos Parkas Museum of the Center of Europe, Vilnius, Lithuania, ChaNorth,Chashama Residency among others. Her works are in the permanent collections of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC; Hebrew Union Institute of Religion Museum, NYC; The Florida Holocaust Museum; Gallerie-Junge KunstWerkStart, Vienna, Austria; The Social-Cultural Center, Prague, Czech Republic; Amnesty International; Einchen Americe, Princeton, New Jersey, Terezin Holocaust Museum ,Czech Republic; The Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum, Vilnius Lithuania;The Derfner Judaica Art Museum at the Hebrew Home, Riverdale, NY; Arts and the Military, Washington, DC, among others. Her works are in many private collections in the United States and Europe. She has exhibited extensively in solo and group shows in the United States and Europe. Her full resume is on her website www.joyceellenweinstein.com, and you can follow her on Instagram @joyceellenweinstein. She now lives and works in Maine.