The Arty Semite

Art Kibbutz Bears First Fruits

By Rebecca Schischa

  • Print
  • Share Share

There was giant Hebrew letter Shin representing the Shekhina — the Godly presence — constructed out of large branches to be launched on a lake and set on fire, a 12-tone music system assigned to the Hebrew alphabet and the 72 names of God, and organic art installations hanging from trees in the forest.

These were just a few of the experimental pieces of land art being created by artists-in-residence at “The Jewish Waltz with Planet Earth Retreat,” a Jewish artists’ residency at the bucolic Eden Village Camp, in Putnam Valley, NY, during the month of May.

The retreat is the first artist colony run by Art Kibbutz NY, an organization set up to nurture Jewish artists and art collaboration, and to create a stronger community of Jewish artists.

“We’ve brought together a diverse group of Jewish artists, of all different disciplines, ages — from 20 to 70 — religious denominations, and from eight countries, and they’ve all engaged and formed a community. I didn’t even have to do much facilitating — art is such a common language, and through this they’ve built their own community,” said Patricia Eszter Margit, Art Kibbutz NY founder.

At an “Open Studio Day” on May 12 artists ran workshops, concerts and performances and presented their art to visitors.

Print-maker Nikki Green, collaborating on the “Shin” installation with fellow artist Asherah Cinnamon, was displaying her ornate prints of Hebrew letters enrobed in motifs from nature at her studio. “In my art, I look at the juxtaposition of the letter and the land,” said Green, who came all the way from Western Australia to participate in Art Kibbutz. Green’s work is inspired by, and created from, the landscape around her, using dyes from native flora for her Hebrew letters series. “I’m seeing flowers that grow here that I’ve never seen before. It’s very exciting!” she said.

Other artists were busy exploring the interplay between the visual and the auditory. Israeli musician and composer Kobi Arad, working on the 12-tone music system, was collaborating on a sound improvisation with visual artists. “In the Jewish world, art and music have been sidelined for a long time. I’ve been searching for something that would give a full focus to the arts,” he said. “With Art Kibbutz, there is that focus, there is a real appreciation for the arts.”

Ceramic artist Emmett Leader from Northampton had created a beautiful gateway to the farm at Eden Village, which was being dedicated at the Open Studio Day. This was part of the public-art/service focus of the residency — doing art in communities, outside and away from museums.

Margit was emphatic about the choice of theme for Art Kibbutz’s first residency: “We didn’t want yet another boring ‘Who’s a Jew, Who’s an Artist, Who’s a Jewish artist’ theme. We wanted to go beyond the usual conversations and do something cutting edge. Land art hasn’t been explored much in a Jewish context before, even though many environmental and land artists are Jewish, so we decided to work with this theme.”

The activist element will continue beyond the residency, with ecological artist Jackie Brookner taking the lead on a yet-to-be-decided large-scale art collaboration in conjunction with the Jewish environmental movement. Margit is also hoping to find a permanent base for Art Kibbutz in the New York area.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Rebecca Schischa, Patricia Eszter Margit, Nikki Green, Kobi Arad, Art Kibbutz

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.