What are the differences and similarities between prints in the exhibition titled what What May Come: The Taller de Grafica Popular and Asher Lev's paintings in the exhibition described in Chaim Potok's novel My Name is Asher Lev?
For the gallery exhibit in Chaim Potok's My Name is Asher Lev, Asher painted a series of crucifixions just as one of the prints in the exhibition titled What May Come: The Taller de Grafica Popular is also a crucifixion. Both artists use the iconic cultural symbol of a crucifixion to capture suffering. However, one significant difference is that the artist of the print uses the crucifixion to capture the suffering of his own culture, while Asher uses it to capture his mother's personal suffering. There are also significant differences between the print and Asher's paintings in terms of details.
The print depicts an eagle hanging on a crucifixion. The eagle is actually one of the symbols on Mexico's national flag. Other symbols on the national flag can also be seen in the print, such as the snake that is twining around the crucifixion and the cacti that surround it on the ground. The artist of the print uses these national symbols in conjunction with a crucifixion as a political protest. If we look further at the print, we also notice symbols of the working class. For example, farms and cities can be seen in the background. There is also a man laying on what appears to be a book; the man may represent the educated class of society. Finally, the cross itself appears to be made up of sickles. We can especially make out a sickle pointing out of the very top wooden beam of the cross. Sickles are used for harvesting and are a very clear symbol of the working class. All in all, the print seems to be capturing the sufferings of the working class and protesting against the Mexican government for not doing enough to help its people.
In contrast to the print, we know that one of Asher's paintings depicts his mother hanging on a crucifix. We also know his painting depicts the family's living-room window somehow in the shape of a crucifix. Asher explains he painted the crucifixion with his mother to portray the suffering she endured while he was growing up, as we see in the passage:
Mama, it's a crucifixion. I made our living-room window into a crucifix and I put you on it to show the world my feelings about your waiting, your fears, your anguish.
More specifically, we know that his mother has lived in profound grief since her brother passed away, and this grief is some of the anguish that Asher sees his mother expressing. Hence, while it can be said that both Asher's painting the print depict anguish or suffering, it can also be said they do so for different reasons and that their general scenes are different.