[ in-suhf-leyt ] to blow or breathe (something) in.

6" x 6"

140# hot-press watercolor paper

acrylic paint, ink, Sharpie pen, collage, paint marker, varnish

I’ve been re-reading my favorite book of all time, The Naked Now by Richard Rohr. When I read the definition of insufflate I thought of his words discussing the unspeakable, unwritable Hebrew name of G-d (Tetragrammaton):

“This unspeakability has long been recognized, but we now know it goes even deeper: formally the word was not spoken at all, but breathed! Many are convinced that its correct pronunciation is an attempt to replicate and imitate the very sound of inhalation and exhalation. The one thing we do every moment of our lives is therefore to speak the name of God.” – Richard Rohr

I recently spilt half a bottle of black ink, which I mopped up with a square of watercolor paper. I chose to use that mottled black sheet for this. The blues are abstract mark-marking, with a photograph of a ruined/overgrown stone doorway from the same book as the background used for my Proxemics painting. That particular photo spoke to me… something that needed life breathed into it.

While the visual of the 4 letter Hebrew name of G-d is nice, I do not write or speak that name. I used the Hebrew word for wind, breath or spirit: ruach. This is the word used in Genesis 1:2: “The earth was unformed and void, darkness was on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the water.”

Written in Hebrew (cursive), it looks like this:

Hebrew letter Het handwriting.svgHebrew letter Vav handwriting.svgHebrew letter Resh handwriting.svg

I stretched those letters out with the wind to form the airy curve that wraps up and over the doorway. The tiny floating specks around the curve are those letters, breathed out over something that was dead, something that needs new life. This piece feels particularly appropriate to the current state of the world. We need resuscitated.

Only after this was complete did I remember that the paper I used to mop up that ink was my first, failed version of my Turpitude painting from my first 100 Day Project (haiku art) in 2016.

Insufflate mixed media word painting by Sarah M. Schumacher