By Charles Bernsen
There are several reasons that Los Angeles artist Marlene Louchheim decided to donate one of her sculptures to Congregation Micah.
First, she is a longtime friend of Rabbi Laurie Rice’s mother and has known Rabbi Rice “since she was in the womb.”
Second, the grounds at Micah are spacious enough to accommodate the sculpture, which consists of two overstuffed bags made of burlap and polished bronze and aluminum and stands more than seven feet tall. But most important, Louchheim said, is the fact that Micah embodies the theme of the piece, which is titled “Filled with Commitment.”
“Congregation Micah is very committed to Jewish life,” said Louchheim, who was in Nashville last month to take part in the installation of the piece.
The sculpture was part of a four-piece exhibition called “Commitment: Gathering Sparks” that went on display three years ago at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles. At the time, Louchheim said she created the piece in memory of her brother, Wally Marks, who was committed to giving back to humanity and fighting for global justice.
Louchheim wanted to find a permanent home for the piece at a Jewish institution where, as a symbolic representation of her brother’s outsized commitment to social justice, it could be an inspiration to young people.
“That’s why it’s so big,” she said.
The sculpture will be installed behind the sanctuary along the path to Micah’s memorial garden and cemetery and will be visible through the sanctuary window.
“We are honored and grateful to make a home for Filled with Commitment at Micah,” said Rabbi Laurie Rice. “Marlene Louchheim is such an accomplished artist. Her generosity is astounding. We hope the piece continues to inspire our members for years to come.” •