by: Howard Cooper on October 9th, 2014 | Comments Off
Inside of a sukkah, a temporary hut constructed during the festival of Sukkot. Credit: Creative Commons/Carly Lesser & Art Drauglis
Just as the lulav that we shake on Sukkot, the festival of rest amidst the desert wanderings, is made up of three different trees — palm, myrtle and willow — I want to share with you another group of three that I’m going to bind together and wave in your direction. And we’ll see if we can add in that exotic etrog element along the way.
Over the last few months I happen to have seen three films, each as different from the other as are the species that make up the lulav. Taken together, they add up to more than the sum of their parts.
by: Roni Finkelstein on October 8th, 2014 | Comments Off
Ruth Golmant believes in the process of creating art as a powerful tool for healing. The art therapist located in Stafford, Virginia lives with one husband, two children, two invisible disabilities, and her ever-evolving Jewish spirituality.
After studying art as an undergraduate at Mills College in Oakland, California, Golmant moved to Virginia to complete a degree in art therapy at George Washington University. Upon graduation she began working with patients in St. Elizabeth’s hospital’s acute trauma unit, where she realized the power of art amidst pain. She recalled:
by: Melissa Weininger on October 6th, 2014 | Comments Off
One of David Mitchell’s literary preoccupations is interconnectedness, the way that, as the theory goes, the flapping of a butterfly’s wings might change the course of history (or at least the weather). Or, say, the way that a trapped and depressed FAA contract worker might set a fire that cancels your surprise trip to Chicago to see your dad who’s recovering from a hip replacement (still not over it!). Mitchell makes connections, so when I’m reading him I see connections.
David Mitchell's novel, The Bone Clocks, focuses on central themes of Yom Kippur. Credit: Melissa Weininger
As I was reading The Bone Clocks, his new novel, in which one of the peripheral characters rides a Norton motorcycle, I happened to see a guy wearing a Norton T-shirt at the diner near my house as I ate brunch with my family. As I re-read the review of the book in the New York Times Book Review, I noticed that the review underneath it (yes, I still get a hard copy of the paper) referred to events that took place in January 1967, the year my husband was born. And the world shrinks a little bit, everything stitched together a little tighter.
Perhaps that’s why I was tempted to see so many of the themes of the season in this book, even though there’s nothing remotely Jewish about it (and organized religion generally comes in for a beating – more on that later). Reading during Rosh Hashanah and the beginning of the Yamim Noraim, the ten days between the New Year and Yom Kippur, the day of repentance, I felt like the novel had something to say about so many of the central themes of the holidays: memory, death, rebirth, mortality, choice and free will, and second chances. These are Mitchell’s touchstones, the big questions he goes back to again and again in all of his novels, but The Bone Clocks brings them together both abstractly – in the form of recurring characters and names, places and events, both within the world of this novel and across his oeuvre – and concretely, as a largish subplot (more later on why it seems like the main plot but isn’t) focuses on a group of immortal souls and their fight against those who would induce immortality by artificial and predatory means.
by: Dalia Hatuqa on October 6th, 2014 | Comments Off
The first stage of making a stucco and glass window involves preparing a wooden frame to hold up the finished product. It features a cavity that is later filled with liquid plaster. Credit: Dalia Hatuqa / Al Jazeera
Originally published in Al Jazeera
East Jerusalem – The Dome of the Rock is one of the most memorable Islamic landmarks in the world, a place for solemn prayer and a refuge for those seeking respite. On any given afternoon, the sun shines through its stained-glass windows, casting vibrantly coloured shadows onto small groups of Quran reciters by the colonnades of this religious site.
One of the oldest works of Islamic architecture, the octagonal building, made of marble and glazed tilework on the outside, is in constant need of care. This delicate job falls solely on the shoulders of a small department – the al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock Restoration Committee – which is in charge of renovating and replacing the windows and roof for both sites.
by: Annie Pentilla on October 3rd, 2014 | 1 Comment »
Nomy Lamm sits amid a nest of prosthetic legs durring Sins' 2009 annual performance. "Hear my bird song. I am so beautiful. I am waiting for you. Hear my bird song," Lamm sings. Image Courtesy of Sins Invalid; Photograph by Richard Downing ©
When Sins Invalid co-founders Patricia Berne and Leroy Franklin Moore Jr. put on a live event in San Francisco in 2006, they didn’t know it would blossom into a years-long collaboration. That night poets, dancers, and performance artists from the Bay Area and beyond filled the stage with emotionally powerful, erotic work, leaving audience members deeply moved – some of them walking away in tears. “We often say we started out of friendship,” recalls Berne.
Why did the first Sins Invalid performance mean so much to everyone involved? Perhaps because that night was the first time many audience members had been to a venue in which a majority of the performers were people with disabilities. And for many of the performers, this was the first time they’d been given a space to affirm their humanity as sexual beings, challenging a culture that tells us that love and sex are the sole property of young, thin, able, white bodies. “I needed to see the show,” says Berne, who became the director at Sins Invalid. “I needed to see this work in the world.”
copyright 2013 Eiren Caffall
There is a theory out there in nature education circles that preparing children for climate change means steering clear of scaring them until they are old enough to handle it. David Sobel, author of Children’s Special Places, is often credited with the mantra, “no disasters before fourth grade,” and he writes eloquently about the notion that you must first ask children to love nature before you ask them to save it.
There are lots of people who champion this view. Recently, Grist published a profile of Liam Hennegan, a professor of environmental science at DePaul University, who has strong opinions about what books should be on a children’s environmental curriculum. He lists classics like The Hobbit, Where the Wild Things Are, and Bridge to Terabithia, not one of them mentioning a word about rising carbon emissions. Instead, the books are gorgeous works that you and I might remember from our own childhoods, full of the pleasures of being in nature, the desire to know and change a special place, and to build story, history, and relationship with it.
I was obsessed with Bridge to Terabithia as a kid. And, I was lucky enough to have access to a stream in my back yard, one that was like the stream in the book. I had hours of time to explore it, with no adults supervising my play. This stream was in the back field that ran behind our house in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. We lived over a gas station during the gas crisis of the 1970′s. My mother was in training for her eventual career in hydrogeology, meaning that I grew up hearing about the oil crisis, waste water runoff, leach fields, and superfund clean-up sites.
I had access to plenty of information about disasters before fourth grade.
On Sunday, The New York Times featured a full page advertisement on page A7 sponsored by the group Creative Community for Peace (CCFP). The advertisement, which at first glance appears to be a benign call for peace in Israel and a denouncement of terror, was signed by the likes of Seth Rogen, Sarah Silverman, Aaron Sorkin, and hundreds of other entertainment stars.
A closer look at the ad reveals its less-than-benign intentions, and a closer look at the group behind the ad, CCFP, reveals that it is actually a front organization for the extremist pro-settler, pro-occupation organization StandWithUs, which is dedicated to laundering Israel’s image and shielding it from critique while demonizing Palestinians.
(For the purposes of transparency, StandWithUs tried to have one of my book appearances cancelled this year.)
Those who signed the letter, to be examined shortly, were almost certainly unaware of CCFP’s affiliation with a pro-occupation organization, particularly since it’s careful to hide that affiliation. Indeed, CCFP has attempted to claim that it is a wholly independent group, though the Forward found the opposite to be the case:
Formed in 2011, CCFP partnered with StandWithUs, a group widely perceived as being on the far right of the pro-Israel spectrum, which accepts tax deductible donations on CCFP’s behalf. CCFP’s founding member, David Renzer, has stated that his group has “always operated independently” of StandWithUs. But the Forward found that, like its partner group, CCFP rejects the U.S. position that settlements are an obstacle to peace and disputes the use of the term “occupation” to describe Israel’s military rule over the West Bank’s more than 2.5 million Palestinians.
by: Nicholas Boeving on September 15th, 2014 | 12 Comments »
Credit: Creative Commons/David Shankbone
Icon. We throw the word around, but do we really know what it means? It found its way into the English language from the original Greek word used for likeness or image (eikṓn). In other words, icons are reflections of what a given group of people hold to be sacred. Given the recent passage of Joan Rivers, and the bewailment of her death as the loss of a great gay icon, I think it’s time to have a frank discussion of just what it is we DO hold sacred in the gay community…and why. We do not ask ourselves this question often enough.
Some have expressed bewilderment as to why Joan Rivers even attained the status of “icon” in the gay community in the first place. To understand this, you must first understand, psychologically speaking, some of the purpose(s) humor serves. Both Plato and Aristotle (yes, they did agree on some things) say that we laugh at the wretched, the fat, the miserable and poor because it asserts our own superiority. Sound familiar? Thought so. Going further, psychiatrist George Eman Vaillant categorized humor as a specialized defense mechanism; in other words, some things are too painful to confront or too terrible to talk about so we just deflect against them.
But let us ask ourselves: just what is it that we’re defending against?
by: Olivia Wise on September 10th, 2014 | Comments Off
Olivia Wise conducted the following interview with Lauren Szabo to inquire about her experimental and esoteric artwork.
Prompted by childhood memories of LA fires and earthquakes, you have been painting scenes of deconstruction for over ten years. Could you start by talking some about what “deconstruction” means for you, and how you define it?
Deconstruction is urban decay. It is when man-made construction is in a state of decomposition. It is a subject in which its materials are returning to an organic state. The subjects are man’s invention intercepted nature’s hand. Deconstructing subjects illustrate the concept of time and its life cycle.
What sustains your ongoing interest in deconstruction?
I follow my gut and try to remain honest about what moves me. I cannot tame what inspires me, and I am constantly finding subject matter that inspires me to paint. When I find my subjects I am hit with intense interest, intuition, and passion. I have often thought the series would end, but instead I feel it is evolving.
The work of artists and creative activists can help to create a cultural democracy that prizes diversity, practices equity, and brings a deep respect for human rights to every aspect of civil society. Therefore, the people-powered U.S. Department of Arts and Culture calls on all artists and creative activists to join in the movement to demilitarize the police and bring justice to victims of publicly funded racism.
- USDAC Call: Creativity for Equity and Justice
For the past two years, I’ve been working with other volunteers to build and launch the USDAC, “the nation’s newest people-powered department, founded on the truth that art and culture are our most powerful and under-tapped resources for social change. Radically inclusive, useful and sustainable, and vibrantly playful, the USDAC aims to spark a grassroots, creative change movement, engaging millions in performing and creating a world rooted in empathy, equity, and social imagination.” We need volunteers, so please help if you can!
This week, appalled by the deluge of racism and violence flooding the news, we issued the USDAC Call: Creativity for Equity and Justice. Recognizing that racism, the denial of human rights, and official violence are all cultural issues, an amazing group of artists and activists (just click the link to see names like Judy Baca, Lucy Lippard, Gloria Steinem, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Peter Coyote, Brett Cook, Lily Yeh, and dozens of others) called on all of us to
Join together in affirming to all public officials and policymakers that a culture of punishment cannot stand. We join together in applying our gifts to the public gatherings, organizing campaigns, and policy proposals that will support positive change. We stand together with generations of creative activists in communities across the nation who have been envisioning and working toward a world of equity and safety for all.