Tzit Tzit: Fiber Art and Jewish Identity

December 24, 2009 § 1 Comment

I met Ben Schachter at the 2009 Conney Conference on Jewish Art: Performing Histories, Inscribing Jewishness, where coincidentally, we both presented Eruv themed works.

In addition to making humorous Jewish themed conceptual art, Ben is a curator and is the man behind Tzit Tzit: Fiber Art and Jewish Identity. I have a few pieces from Hiddur Mitzvah included in the show.

Tzit Tzit Fiber Art and Jewish Identity

A special exhibit assembled by guest curator Ben Schachter, “Tzit Tzit: Fiber Art and Jewish Identity,” will open with a reception at The Saint Vincent Gallery in the Robert S. Carey Student Center at Saint Vincent College from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, January 28. Admission is free and open to the public.

The exhibit will continue from Friday, January 29 through Sunday, February 21 during regular Gallery hours: 12 noon to 3 p.m. and 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 12 noon to 3 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The Gallery is closed on Mondays.

Participating artists include Maya Escobar, Melanie Dankowicz, Carol Es, Leslie Golomb, Louise Silk and Shirah Apple.

Ms. Silk will present a lecture, “Quilting and Spirituality,” at 6 p.m. Monday, February 9 in room 100 of Prep Hall.

Mr. Schachter, associate professor of fine arts, will give a Gallery tour of the exhibition at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 9.

The exhibit was developed by Mr. Schachter. “I have been studying various aspects of Jewish art for the past three years and this exhibit is an outgrowth of that interest,” Mr. Schachter said. “The artists hail from Los Angeles, New York City, Kansas City, Illinois and Pittsburgh.”

“Fiber art refers to any use of a cloth such as stitching or weaving,” he explained. “The title, Tzit Tzit, refers to the fringe on a prayer shawl, or tallis, worn by many Jews during prayer. While using thread, cloth, pattern making, stitching and other craft materials, each artists’ process creates a language derived from craft techniques that reinterprets the Old Testament, the oral law as written in the Talmud and personal histories. In so doing, both craft theory and Jewish Art are reinvigorated. I learned of these artists through Jewish art conferences I have attended, through exhibitions and through national awards. I think our students and our friends in the region will really enjoy seeing their work.”

Ben Schachter is an artist whose work integrates conceptual art and Jewish law. He sees a connection between the rules artists have created to guide and limit their work and Jewish traditions. His work has been shown nationally and will be on exhibition at the Westmoreland Museum of Art in Greensburg concurrent with this exhibition. He holds an M.F.A. and M.S. degree from Pratt Institute and lives in Pittsburgh with his wife and two children.

Carol Es paints images that powerfully scream of a life of hard labor. As a child she worked endless hours in a sweatshop with her family. Ms. Es’ works are featured in numerous private and public collections, including the Getty Museum, Brooklyn Museum, UCLA Special Collections, the Jaffe Collection and Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. She is also a two-time recipient of the ARC Grant from the Durfee Foundation and was recently awarded the prestigious Pollock-Krasner Fellowship.

Maya Escobar’s work directly challenges gender roles and illustrates how Jewish tradition empowers women. Ms. Escobar received her master of fine arts degree from the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, Washington University in St. Louis, and her bachelor of fine arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has exhibited work in Spain, Guatemala, United States, Germany and Venezuela.

Melanie Dankowicz creates intricate papercut sculptures, marriage contracts, and wall art. An expansion of the medium, Dankowicz’s three-dimensional forms are ephemeral lace-like paper structures, of elegant tracery that has inspired her recent metalwork. She draws inspiration from the countryside of Illinois, where she resides with Harry and their three children.

Leslie Golomb exhibits her work nationally and internationally and is the recipient of numerous awards, including recognition from the National Endowment for the Arts, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Individual Artists Fellowship Award and a State of the Art Award from the State Museum of Pennsylvania. Her work was recently included in the Three Rivers Arts Festival and Best of Pittsburgh Invitational. Ms. Golomb holds a bachelor in fine arts from Carnegie-Mellon University and a master of fine arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She served as founder and director of the American Jewish Museum of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh for nine years. She has returned to the studio producing prints and artists books.

Louise Silk began her quest to acquire skills as a quilter after being inspired by an article in Ms. Magazine in 1971 about quilt making as a woman’s art form. Over the past 30 years, her work has been included in Quilt National Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary Quilts as well as many private corporate collections such as USAirways, Paine Webber and PNC Bank. She is a certified Integrated Kabbalistic Healer. She is currently living and working from her loft in the South Side of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Ms. Golumb and Ms. Silk collaborate and join their printmaking and fiber art into multilayered quilts, runners and tallisim. The images and techniques bring together American folk traditions and Jewish history in surprising ways. Ultimately the perspective of these five artists reinvigorates what Jewish Art is and can become.

Shirah Apple received a master of fine arts degree from the Rinehart School of Sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2006. She is a graduate of MICA’s post-baccalaureate certificate program and of Miami University, where she received a bachelor of science degree in business administration.

Further information about the exhibition is available by contacting the Gallery at 724 805-2107, www.stvincent.edu/gallery.

Interview on Blogadera

September 15, 2009 § 2 Comments

I was interviewed on the Latino Blog Directory site Blogadera

click here for full interview:

Here we are with Maya Escobar. An artist and educator whose art, personality and opinions come to life by way of her blog and social media extensions.  We are thrilled to have her on to talk about her background, blogging and sharing her blogging experience with the rest of the blogadera.

When did you start blogging? What prompted you to pick it up.

I started blogging in 2005, at the time I was completing my degree in art education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  I was interested in connecting with other artists, activists, students and educators to share ideas and resources.

What do you blog about? Why?

I blog about issues that relate to the artworks I am producing (basically concepts I am thinking about). Topics include: the construction of identity, hybridity, sexuality, education, placelessness, immigration, activism, religion, and mental health.

Can you give us a little bit of background on Maya Escobar?

Well… it just so happens that I just posted a new “about me” to my website:

I am a performance artist, Internet curator, and editor. I use the web as a platform for engaging in critical community dialogues that concern processes by which identities are socially and culturally constructed. I perform multiple identities and sample widely from online representations and existing cultural discourses. My identifications as a Latina-Jewish artist, dyslexic blogger, activist and educator are indexed by the blogs I keep, the visual and textual links I post, the books, articles, and blog posts I cite, the public comments I leave, and the groups I join.

By examining and re-imagining my personal experiences, I attempt to provide others with a framework for questioning societal limitations based on gendered and racialized cultural generalizations.

(if you found that about me too dull there is a post on my blog where I describe myself as an elephant)

Does your blog reflect your culture? Is this intentional or just a natural byproduct?

I hope that my blog reflects a culture of critical inquiry, communal dialogue, and collaboration. (this would be intentional)

What is the state of the Latino Blogosphere? Do you see it growing? Any Examples?

I see more and more Latina and Latino bloggers every day.  But what I find most exciting is when those bloggers are young people and they are blogging with a positive message.  A wonderful example that I have found is MyLatinitas.com the social networking platform hosted by Latinitas Magazine. Here young Latinas are actively sharing their thoughts on politics, culture, education, and family.

You work alot with videos…do you consider yourself a vlogger? If so, can you define that for us!

hmm… I am not really sure if I consider myself to be a vlogger.  When I think of a vlogger, I think of a person who makes videos that contain similar content to content that would be included in a blog post (such as current events, politics, or personal observations.) Maybe, I am a part time vlogger

Any advice for Latinos who want to start blogging?

I think it is important to get a sense of why it is that you want to blog, what will your blog say about you, and how you envision your blog interacting with your personal and professional life.

Write about issues that you are passionate about, in a way that other people can relate to.  Use the Internet for all it can do- link between your own posts and link to posts written by others.  Read other people’s blogs and comment!  If you want people to be interested in the things you are writing about know what they are writing about!

And most importantly when you can, blog in Spanish!

What blogs do you follow or subscribe to? Favorites?

I just started reading VivirLatino which led me to the awesome blog of La Mamita Mala. I have been following Latina Lista for sometime, Rio Yañez and his buddy Maya ChinchillaSergio AntonioJorge Linares…… the list just keeps on growing…

What are you favorite social media sites and how do you use these tools in your day-to-day?

At this point twitter, youtube, flickr and wordpress are the sites that I most commonly use. My activity on all of theses sites crosses over.  For example, I might write a post on my blog, that will include a youtube video and images I posted onto flickr.  Then I send a tweet that includes either a segment of my blog post, an image from the post, or some of the tag words describing the post.

Do you divide social media by purpose, friends, professional v. personal, etc.?

Not really, for the most part my personal life is my professional life.

What’s next for Maya? What do we have to look forward to from you?

I am working with my father on developing my first performance piece entirely in Spanish. We are using a recording of an interview my mother conducted with my abuelita in 1985, as source material for the monologue I will be performing recounting her experiences, but as myself- two generations removed……

I am also planning a piece with fellow artist and blogger Rio Yañez surrounding the Wise Latina phenomenon.  I don’’t want to give too many details away, but I can promise there is going to be a Top 10 list!

wise latina on Twitpic

[more]

check out other Blogadera interviews with Carrie Fergerson and Jo Ann Hernandez

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