By Ben Spencer

What’s in a Name?For One NYC Mom, Naming is Her Business


Photography is the most direct means of memorializing an event, but not always the most personal or meaningful, no matter how skillful the technician. Denise Waxman is a New York City mother of two who decided to honor the ritual of a Bris, or a naming ceremony, by using a brush and computer instead of a camera to create her Baby Brit Naming Certificates. The Baby Brit certificate is a 19-inch square document featuring an original watercolor design by Waxman, framed by a one-inch text border containing a traditional Jewish prayer and a design consisting of 10 Stars of David, alternated with images of the sun and phases of the moon. (The artist has provided five different texts for the border, but says that parents can also supply their own). Waxman's painting is reproduced as a digital print called a Giclee (pronounced "gee-clay"). The print, made on high-quality, 140-pound professional Arches watercolor paper with archival inks, gives Waxman's work the look and feel of an original painting. A lawyer who took up the difficult and often underrated medium of watercolor about two decades ago, Waxman produced her prototypes, both original watercolors, for her two daughters. Now, 15 years later, she has turned out nearly 40 different images from her brush, all of which refer to aspects of nature — rainbows, honeycombs, seashells, snowflakes, sunsets, various kinds of trees, weather and flowers, and different accounts of the sun and moon. There are also birds (from an eagle to a duck), a ladybug, and most curiously, images of nature in microcosm: a DNA configuration, a webby network of nerve cells, the scaly pattern of wood cells, and even a human egg undergoing fertilization. "When I've attended naming ceremonies, I've found that parents typically have a story about how they arrived at the name," Waxman says. "There are all different ways people choose names, including naming the child after a deceased relative as a way of blessing the child with that relative's characteristics. So there's always a story, an association. And there's often some reference to nature — a child might be born on a rainy day, or be named Rose — so I've tried to supply images from all parts of nature, as well as images relating specifically to the Jewish tradition." For more information, call (718) 623-1093. The address for the Baby Brit website, which is not yet up-and-running, will be


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