Art Show Inspired By Judaic Text & Subtext
Beginning in October of 2012 the Jewish Art Lab met twice a month to discuss various Judaic texts and teachings. Each session was inspired by different topics, such as Sacred Space, the Binding of Isaac, Negative and Positive, and Pride & Humility. Delving into rich Judaic topics the facilitators of the lab developed teachings through an artistic lens. The narrative each facilitator provided always explored the significance of what is Jewish and also what is artistic about the topic.
The topic of the Akedah, for example, discussed themes of: testing, sacrifice, and trust. This biblical story speaks to the parent-child connection of these themes, which you can pick out with a study of David Moss’s artistic rendition [right]. Other themes covered more existential topics that examined the importance of Yaddaim (hands) or Neshama the (soul), and even a lesson on Pride and Humility while studying the story of Joseph and his dreams of feast and famine. Over the course of almost a year the art lab produced a substantial impression on us and inspired our artwork.
My favorite theme from participating in the Jewish Arts Laboratory was the teaching on Pride and Humility facilitated by Meryll Page. The text that we studied in the lab came from the story of Joseph and his decisions to reveal his dreams to his family.
“Look, I have had another dream: And this time, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” And when he told it to his father and brothers, his father berated him. “What,” he said to him, “is this dream you have dreamed? Are we to come, I and your mother and your brothers, and bow low to you to the ground?” So his brothers were wrought up at him, and his father kept the matter in mind. Genesis 37.10
Joseph’s intention behind unveiling his dreams can be an analogy for artists when they decide to showcase their art. It is such a fine line between pride and humility when publicly showcasing a painting. Much like dreams, paintings mirror our subconscious and represent an interpretation unlocking a deeper realm of reality. My submission to the show is a self-portrait representing the spectrum of being my full self, being my “out” self, and the fine balancing act between these dichotomies. I believe Joseph also walked this line when deciding to “come out” to his family about his premonitions of the future, despite the repercussions.
I intentionally used the term “coming out” as it describes both the process of revealing one’s true self and also the figure of speech for LGBT people’s self-disclosure of their sexuality. I find it imperative to mention this especially today, Minnesota’s first day of legally recognizing the love and commitment of same-sex couples. Being a queer, Jewish, artist; the Medot (measurement) between pride and humility is an evolving continuum of authenticity based on discretion.
The art show begins August 8 and runs till September 22, 2013 at the Tychman Shapiro Gallery at the Sabes JCC. The show will reveal the breadth and depth of the participating artists and their interpretations of text/context/ subtext.
Featuring work of: Susan Armington, Carolyn Light Bell, Hanna Bloomfield, Joel Carter, Shana Cohen, Jordyn Feiger, Suzanne Fenton, Rani Halpern, Bonnie Heller, Sylvia Horwitz, Alison Morse, Diane Pecoraro, Paula Leiter Pergament, Kris Prince, Louise Ribnick, Phil Rosenbloom, and Susan Weinberg.
Facilitated by: Robyn Awend, Anat Szendro, Rabbi Alexander Davis, and Meryll Page.
This exhibition will feature painting, sculpture, photography, mixed media, among a variety of other mediums that capture themes of Jewish Text, Context, and Subtext that reflect the teachings and topics over the eight month course.
You can check out a preview of the work featured in the show here.
The art lab was made possible by a generous grant from The Covenant Foundation. The Minneapolis Sabes Jewish Community Center, along with The Harry & Rose Samson Jewish Community Center, Milwaukee, and University of Wisconsin Hillel, Madison, Wisconsin has collaborated to create this unique artistic initiative.