Hidden Links: Exploring Jewish Identity
Co-curated and produced by Mizel Museum and Center for the Arts, Evergreen
New York artists Cynthia Beth Rubin and Yona Verwer Exhibit a varied series of Jewish-themed works. They will exhibit works created together and separately, demonstrating how very different paths led each artist to an exploration of Jewish history and heritage that naturally culminated in a collaborative works. Working together as interpreters of history and heritage as they, photograph, document, represent, and weave together the stories of the past and the present.
The resulting collaborative works are presented as canvas banners, incorporating painterly digital imagery and physical acrylic paint. The banners are conceptually layered with augmented reality, drawing upon interviews with residents and experts from the neighborhood.
These works draw on both Rubin’s and Verwer’s earlier cultural heritage work, which will be exhibited alongside the collaborative works.
Rubin describes her work as an investigation of the threads of cultural memory which comes from some place beyond the individual. She is interested in how cultural traditions collide and merge, and how this is embedded in all of us. New technology has expanded her visual vocabulary, and all of her work, both video and still imagery, is now produced through the computer. Rubin’s imagery grows from the affinity between her life as a contemporary American, and what she regards as her heritage. Although much of her work focuses on Eastern European Jewish culture, many other cultural legacies have touched her work as well. Recently she has incorporated imagery from the environment, particularly the microscopic world, in revealing the hidden world that impacts our environment. Rubin is a pioneer in implementing the new technology of Augmented Reality to engage the viewer in a conceptual dialogue with artistically mediated artwork and microscopic life, echoing the experience of awe that has long been nearly exclusively the realm of the scientist.
Verwer’s work reflects her background of coming to Jewish observance later on in life, by considering the cultural zones in which she has lived. In combining the imagery of the Jewish past with the role she plays in America today, she is making a new art inspired by Torah, Kabbalah and pop-culture. Her City Charms series is based on Jewish architecture; their talisman aspects invoke protection from acts of destruction on buildings, particularly terror-watch-list targets. Her panels depicting interiors of Lower East Side synagogues capture this neighborhood’s Jewish diversity. Her Kabbala of Bling series comments on the appropriation of Kabbala by pop icons. As Ori Z. Soltes wrote: “Verwer’s Kabbalah of Bling series is intended to merge the deeply spiritual with the banal. “Kabbalah” and “Bling” should ordinarily be mutually contradictory”