Excelsior! 

Isaac Brynjegard-Bialik, who calls himself the "Nice Jewish Artist," describes his vibrant collage work as visual biblical commentary that combines the traditional art of paper cutting with a modern sensibility in order to explore Jewish traditions. Brynjegard-Bialik, who opens his one-man exhibition "Paper Tefillah" at Temple Israel this week, is also a self-professed comic book geek who draws inspiration from traditional midrash and Marvel comics alike.

"With the 'Paper Tefillah,' I wanted to capture the meaning and feeling of prayer," Brynjegard-Bialik says. "To express the feeling one gets trying to communicate with forces so much greater than oneself.

For MaAriv Aravim — a prayer about creation and the rolling back of darkness — Brynjegard-Bialik was inspired by the movement of the planets and cut watercolor stock to reflect their orbits. He backed his cut paper with pieces of prayer books and selections from "Cloak & Dagger," a short-lived comic series about a teenage super duo who use powers of light and darkness.

"My daughter also loves comic books, and sometimes she is scandalized when she sees me cutting them into pieces," Brynjegard-Bialik says. "So I have to remind her that I only cut my comics. Hers are sacrosanct."

In addition to 16 pieces relating to prayer, Brynjegard-Bialik has crafted a special Memphis-centric portrait of King David that borrows playing-card imagery and is backed by images of Elvis cut from a special 1995 issue of Life magazine.

"Paper Tefillah" at Temple Israel January 8th-February 8th. Opening reception is January 10th, 8 to 10 p.m. with a lecture by the artist beginning at 7 p.m.

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