June 21 – August 23, 2018
Crossing The Threshold
Featuring work by the Jewish Artists’ Laboratory. The Jewish Artists’ Laboratory, now in its sixth year, explores specific themes through study and art making, bringing together a diverse group of artists who have an interest in the relationship between Jewish thought and creativity.
This year, nearly 35 artists spent eight months studying and exploring the theme of Crossing the Threshold. This topic presented a multitude of opportunities to explore how thresholds are reflected in Jewish rituals and holidays, and the significance of Jewish rituals and holidays, and the significance of thresholds in its many forms. This exhibit showcases a large array of media and subject matter around this expansive theme.
ARTISTS INCLUDE: Susan Armington, Robyn Awend (Lab Coordinator), Carolyn Light Bell, Jordyn Feiger Bomberg, Jaymee Chanen, Gloria Cooper, Toni Dachis, Sandra Felemovicius, Suzanne Fenton, Jonathan Gross, Rani Halpern, Bonnie Heller, Ann Ginsburgh-Hofkin, Sylvia Horwitz, Sheri Klein, Anita Konikoff, Alison Morse, Gayle Novick, Dina O’Sullivan, Diane Pecoraro, Paula Leiter Pergament, Kris Prince, Sarah Routman, Jan Rubenstein, David Sherman, Noam Sienna, Aaron Silver, Diane Silverman, Judy Snitzer, Susan Weinberg (Resident Writer), Rochelle Woldorsky, Sharon Zweigbaum
In partnership with The Midwest Jewish Artists’ Lab and Beth El Synagogue. Generously supported by The Covenant Foundation.
Reception: Thursday, June 21 6 – 8 PM
Artist Presentations: 7 PM
Free and open to the public.
BLESS OUR COMING AND OUR GOING
By Rabbi Alexander Davis, Artists’ Lab Facilitator
“Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” -Deuteronomy 6:9
The Torah commands us to write teachings on the doors of our homes and our city gates. That is, write them directly on the doorposts. Such was the practice among ancient Egyptians and Samaritans. And it remains a tradition in the Muslim community. For Jews of the Second Temple period (530 BCE-70 CE), however, this practice was modified. Instructions were written on parchment and placed in a case. These “mezuzot” were then affixed to doorposts. This is how the practice is observed today.
According to Jewish law, it is the hand-written parchment that makes a mezuzah kosher. At the same time, over the centuries, the case itself has been imbued by artists with a beauty and significance all its own. Today, mezuzot come in all shapes, sizes and styles. They are made out of silver, glass, ceramic, wood, even Legos! Still, whatever the design, the case is ultimately but a container for a scroll, an outer covering that protects or perhaps, draws attention to a holy teaching.
In this way, mezuzot are metaphors for art. The design element of an art piece is a vehicle for a deeper message. Such is the case in this exhibit, Crossing the Threshold. Over the course of the past year, artists from around the community gathered to study texts of Jewish tradition. They entered a dialogue with ancient sages and contemporary colleagues, sat with new ideas and eventually, fashioned an original creation infused with the message and spirit of Torah.
It has been an honor learning with and from members of the Minneapolis Jewish Artists’ Lab. In our studies, we explored thresholds of time and space, physical thresholds and thresholds as a metaphor. We examined the Bible’s description of Joshua entering the Land of Israel, the Psalmist’s vision of the gates of the Temple in Jerusalem, the mitzvah of placing Chanukkah lamps by our doorsteps, and the Torah’s allusive reference to women serving at the entrance of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Contemporary issues such as immigrants crossing America’s borders and our own personal stories about crossing boundaries naturally made their way into our discussions, giving our conversations added layers of relevance.
A threshold is a place of transition where we move from here to there, from inside to outside, from known to unknown. Strategically located in that liminal space, the mezuzah calls out, “May those who enter and those who leave be blessed.” And that is our hope for viewers of Crossing the Threshold. May the images and words challenge and inspire us to make the thresholds in our lives and in our lands places of blessing.
Panoramic Photos of the Crossing the Threshold Exhibition