Thursday, May 29, 2008

Celebrating our Work

We had a great article in the Philadelphia Daily News on May 20, check it out.

On May 1 we had a great community celebration, with many people helping tell the story of this project. A film and slide show about the project was being projected on the wall as we listed to live music, ate and shared stories with new friends.

It was one of those special and authentic community arts events where you had to be there in person to fully appreciate the feelings of pride in our work. There have been a number of participants who wrote lengthy articles about their experience in Collective Imprints. This project really was a ground breaking experience, and something that I hope will live on not only on the walls of the Rotunda but in the hearts and minds of all who participated in the project in someway. Until the very end new people were coming to get involved. Clearly people in Philadelphia love community arts.

Rashida describing the mural.

Jodi leads a community movement response to the mural.

Ben describing the mural.

Lion of Jerusalem Project

The "Lion of Jerusalem" will be dedicated June 1 at Congregation Anshi Israel in Tucson, AZ. The life-size sculpture will welcome all who enter Congregation Anshei Israel.

This design is inspired by the tradition of Jewish Paper cut outs. These works often had a religious, ritual, or mystic purpose. This particular design has Sephardic and Northern African roots. If you look closely you will find similar patterns on buildings throughout the southwest. I selected two colors that flash or flicker like a candle, colors that speak to the Jewish American spiritual history and experience. You may notice slight color changes in various types of light. This vibrancy is achieved through the careful layering of paints. I knew that most people would be seeing the lion from a distance, so I enlarged the designs. The lion looks different from all angles, and the colors change throughout the day.

The earliest known reference to Jewish cut paper dates to 1345, when Rabbi Shem-Tov ben Yitzhak ben Ardutiel composed The War of the Pen Against the Scissors. He tells a story that when the his ink froze one winter night he started cutting the letters out of the paper.

This project was part of The Jewish Arts Alliance (JAA) , dedicated to supporting and inspiring Jewish artists and artistic Jews in Southern Arizona.


Thursday, May 8, 2008

RW Brown Community Center Murals

April 30 was a busy community paint day at the RW Brown Community Center where I am the lead artist on a project with the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program . I had the privilege of working with Cathy Harris, Director of Community Murals at MAP, artists Josh Smith and Colleen Kane as well as a team of people from City Year and Aramark . Throughout the day about 45 people participated, painting in a good part of the mural. The mural is being painted on a cloth that will be adhered to the wall.

This was part of a day of service sponsored by Aramark as part of their 2008-9 Building Community North American Tour. As we painted the mural other teams were working on planting garden beds, creating benches and picnic tables, planting flowers, painting and much more.

The theme of the mural is strong families supporting community. We see a student writing some thoughts. His thoughts reflect his idealism, aspirations and daily life. We see a family walking in a commons field, kids planting community gardens that are harvested with produce being transported to local restaurants and stores. Also depicted are kids playing sports under the watchful eye of neighborhood elders. Implicit in this mural is the idea that it does take an entire city to raise a child, and that this community center is providing critical support to families.

An interesting aspect of this project is the collaboration of organizations who made this mural possible. Clearly the message is out that murals are one important ingredient to building community. People feel a real sense of accomplishment, and as we did today, the team is stronger through a shared experience.

As the day ended several people said - OK - so when is the next paint day? - that was fun!