Excerpts from my thesis: My Shtreimel

April 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

My Shtreimel is a video blog that features my fiancée Loren, who is a reoccurring character in my work. Sitting in a dimly lit room, Loren shares a personal Sabbath ritual. Behind him is the large painting of the Rebbe that appears in  Obsessed with Frida Kahlo video. Although Loren is alone, he addresses the camera as if he were speaking directly with his eventual audience.

My Shtreimel, YouTube Video, 2006.

“I think it is very important for each of us to have an enjoyable Shabbos experience. And to be able to in some ways personally define what that Shabbos experience entails. There’s a lot of different minhags that I think a lot different people have that not every one has. And there are certain things that we develop not necessarily because they are passed down from our father, or our mother, or your mother’s father, just because it is something that makes your Shabbos experience a little bit more enjoyable a lot these personal minhags that we all have…”

Casually citing the Chofetz Hayim and the Talmud Yerushalmi, he acknowledges both his relationship to, and awareness of traditional Jewish texts; thereby, indirectly aligning himself with a more observant Jewish community. Using humor, he offsets the implied exclusivity of those ties, by adding that he is actually wearing a woman’s hat that was purchased at a thrift store.

eruv stl is “posted as a response” to My Shtreimel. eruv stl is intended to link Berlin’s Eruv to St. Louis. In this low quality thus “authentic video blog” Loren and I drive around the Washington University in St. Louis area, with a map in hand, trying to locate St. Louis’s eruv. In the background you can hear Guns and Roses famous song Welcome to the Jungle. Loren assumes a role similar to the one of Matisyahu, a halakically informed Jew, who does not the traditional model for the other and is thereby able to communicate with the secular world.

eruv stl, YouTube Video, 2009.

I ask Loren why he thinks the eruv extends as far as it does and if he thinks that there area lot of Orthodox Jewish families living in the area. Loren tell me that the eruv has extended this far because of the Hillel on campus, and that while there are not many Orthodox families living on the streets that we are driving, that the presence of the Hillel on campus is enough to create an eruv-worthy Jewish community.

Not only does it become clear that Loren familiar with Orthodox Jewish practices and the neighboring streets, but also he is still not sure exactly where the eruv is located. Meaning that even though the eruv is present, Loren is either a) so religious that he doesn’t abide by it, OR b) he doesn’t lead a Jewish life that would involve abiding by an eruv. As the conversation continues Loren continues to distance himself from vocabulary that you would expect to come from a more observant Jew, as he casually engages in humorous banter with me surrounding the eruv.

I ask him how it felt to finally “find” the eruv, he responds that he “feels pretty good” but he didn’t feel like “it was an actual wall” – which it isn’t, so this statement is made in jest. He continues, “its like finding Waldo, Waldo had curly hair and glasses, he might have been a frum Jew [...] maybe it is a statement about jews begin such a small percentage of the population…


The Rebbe, Acrylic on Canvas, 2004.

more thesis excerpts coming soon…

Minorities Are Becoming The Majority In The U.S.

April 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

Latino youth are 2.5x less likely to earn a bachelor's degree than their white friends.

Did you know that 9 out of 10 Latino teens believe that a college degree is important for success, but only 5 out of 10 think it’s possible.

Considering population shifts and graduation rates remaining constant, by 2042 the country’s overall graduation rate will decline by 22%.

A less educated future will mean: more low-paying jobs, a lower national GDP, and more national debt.

We can not allow this to happen.

I am proud to say that New Futuro was formed to solve these issues.

Offering bilingual, financial aid, scholarship, career, and networking resources to parents and students; helping Latino families achieve their dreams; New Futuro plans to change the face of Hispanic education.

But New Futuro can’t do it alone.  We need you.
Find out more at NewFuturo.com.

Pochos and Pixels: The Art of Rio Yañez

April 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

Rio Yañez never ceases to amaze me…  This time it’s through his (FIRST!!!) solo exhibition, Pochos and Pixels: The Art of Rio Yañez.  Just look at this dual punk rock meets hip hop (ghetto) Frida… Clearly, Rio is an artistic mastermind.

WHAT: Pochos and Pixels: The Art of Rio Yañez.
WHEN: Wednesday, April 11 – Friday, June 15 2012
Monday-Friday: 8:00AM – 10:00PM,
WHERE: UCSB Multicultural Center
University Center room 1504
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-6050
The Latina HipsterThe Latina Role ModelThe Homegirl
Acciones Plásticas プリクラ collaboration with Rio Yañez (2009)

Fractured Jewishness

April 18, 2012 § 1 Comment

Is being half-Jewish, like being half-pregnant? Yes.

Intrigued? Want to hear more?

I have the honor of being the keynote speaker at the Half Jewish?” The Heirs of Intermarriage conference at Northwestern University, which runs from 4/20-4/22. My Friday night talk will center around the construction and the perpetuation of fractured cultural identities. On Saturday my dear friend Yoni Sarason, aka The St. Lou Jew, aka Midwest Director of Birthright Next, will be speaking on a panel with Dan Libenson, moderated by Denise Handlarski.  Come check out the conference.  Meet some lefty Jews.  Learn and mingle.

Register here.

 

Fundamentally altering the landscape of Latino Education

April 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

Our baby has been birthed.  New Futuro 1.5  has arrived!  My Creative Content team has been kicking butt working alongside the Digital Development team to make it happen. I ask you now to check out NewFuturo.com  Become a member.  Give us feedback.  Just as my participatory internet-based art is all about constant communal engagement, deconstruction, and reconstruction, so is New Futuro.

And there is much more to come. In New Futuro 2, students will have a fully curatorial experience, where they are able to to personalize their academic journeys. Students will be able to collect and bring in all of the things they think are awesome. And New Futuro will be able to dynamically combine student’s interests with their skill sets, financial need, grade level, location, associations, and more, to provide them with ongoing college and post-college guidance.

For me, this is radical education at its finest.  

Poco a Poco Radio interview featuring New Futuro.

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