Keren Or Featured: Malachai Gross

Malachai Gross, an 11th grader, is one of this year’s Keren Or (Ray of Light) creative arts contest winners. He won 1st place in 10-12 grade photography for “Scale” and 3rd place in 10-12 grade prose for “Against All Odds.” Here’s a Q&A with him about his work!


What and/or who inspires your creative practice?

A lot of my creative practice is inspired by my sister. When I was younger, I was always incredibly impressed with my sister’s creativity, whether it be through photography, prose, or poetry. Her work and submission to contests such as Keren Or really inspired me to try my hand at some forms of creative thinking and practice.

What impact does winning Keren Or have on you personally and your work?

Winning Keren Or means a great deal to me personally. This competition has been a great way for validating my work, as without the guidance of a formal art class or writing class at school, most of my creative process is self-motivated. As such it is overwhelmingly appreciated to have my work feel seen and validated through this competition. It is often easy to express doubt in one’s self without guidance, and so Keren Or provides me a great deal of motivation to keep pushing and working harder.

Why did you create the art you did, and what message do you hope people take away from it?

To me, creating art has always been a reflection of how I feel and experience the world around me at a given time, and I think by physically channeling this feeling into art it can help me to understand what I am feeling and seeing around me. If I had one message I hope that people take away from my art, it is that creativity, beauty, and art can be found everywhere and anywhere in life and that expressing how you feel about the world around you is a greatly important skill in life.

What does creating art mean to you and why is it important to you?

To me, creating art means leaving some impression of myself and my perspective behind in ways that could possibly transcend one particular moment. I think that art is a way to imprint the creator’s thoughts and feelings onto it, and so creating art gives me an outlet to express myself in ways I can’t necessarily express in everyday life. I think this expression is hugely important and allows for both personal growth and understanding.