Trying to Capture the Invisible
Leonard Nimoy takes up a new vocation: photographing the divine feminine.
BY: Interview by Anne A. Simpkinson
Despite his many stage, film, and television credits, Leonard Nimoy is best known for his role as Mr. Spock, Captain Kirk's Vulcan sidekick, in the phenomenally successful television and film series, Star Trek. Ardent trekkies probably know that Nimoy devised the Vulcan salute based on a gesture of blessing used by rabbis in some Orthodox services. What most don't know is that after several seasons of the show and Mission Impossible, he considered changing his career to photography.
The path he did not take then is the one he is traveling now. Nimoy has for the past several years become deeply involved in photography; one of his projects involves creating images of the Shekhina, or female presence of God.
His images are bound to provoke more than a few feminists and conservative Jews because he depicts the Shekhina naked, draped with a prayer shawl or veils, or wearing a tefillin, leather pouches containing Torah passages that are traditionally worn only by men during morning prayers. Some might protest the fact that he is picturing the Shekhina at all.
Nimoy spoke with Beliefnet senior producer, Anne Simpkinson, about his new career direction, his provocative photographs, and his pursuit of the divine feminine.
Photographs copyright Leonard Nimoy. Used here with permission.
When did you start taking photographs?
I've been working with photography for many years. About seven or eight years ago, I started work on a collection of images of the female figure--some of which are onmy web site
--a classic nude series.
About three years ago, I was visiting a collector in New York, who has a rather impressive collection of photographs, all based on the human hand. It struck me that I had an image that might be interesting to him and it was the image of the hand in the kabbalistic gesture, the split fingers, that you might be familiar with. [On Star Trek, it was the Vulcan salute.]
The image is a single hand held upright, palm facing the viewer, and the fingers split, the thumb outstretched, the thumb outstretched and the other four fingers split into two pairs.
That gesture comes from something I experienced as a young child in the Orthodox Jewish service. There's a traditional blessing that is intoned by theKohanim
, the Hebrew priest, during the Orthodox service:
"May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord cause His countenance to shine upon you.
May the Lord turn his graciousness unto you,
And grant you peace."