Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Wettest Parsha

1/27/2015  Lab 1.0  by Robyn Awend

Yira – (Hebrew word for both Fear and Awe)

Rabbi Davis began our Lab by leading us in several rounds of the beautiful song Ozi V’Zimrat Ya. We then dove into the “wettest parsha,” Exodus 14:15-16/ The Song at the Sea – Shirat ha Yam. We went into great detail about the conversation that was held between the Red Sea and Moses, debating who holds more importance. We then were asked to put ourselves in that moment of the Red Sea parting, to look at ourselves in a mirror, and then decide who are we --either an Israelite, Egyptian, etc. and what our feelings and thoughts were in that very moment --“Fear, faith, trust, questioning, etc….”   And what were we going to do –“Go, flee, etc….” After much discussion and roleplaying we focused the question on our lens as artists. “What would you want to capture as an artist at that moment when the Red Sea parted,” asked Rabbi Davis. It was a difficult question, one that silenced the room for an a brief period of contemplation. Then answers began to emerge and flow…. “the sounds, bravery, the energy, hope, fear, unity, personal confusion, tangible vs. intangible, dualities, etc.” Rabbi Davis closed his session with the same song that we started with, Ozi V’Zimrat Ya, which left a vibrating energy surrounding us.

We then moved into the circular room in the Learning Center and gathered around a round table with a rich blue linen. Liba lead us in a Zentangle exercise. We were each given a small square piece of white drawing paper and a fine point black pen. We were invited to doodle, to meditate, to draw without thinking, to be in the moment, to create a repetitive pattern, to let go and trust ourselves, to SLOW DOWN.  We each created a unique picture and some added a bit of blue watercolor to enhance the theme of water. We shared about our experience and viewed the images together before we parted, feeling considerably more zen then when we started.

Each of us experiences personal “red sea moments” in our lives. Slowing down and trusting yourself is one way to make it through that narrow space.

More about Zentangles can be found here: https://www.zentangle.com/

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Red Sea Time

January 20, 2015  Lab 2.0  by Susan Weinberg

Sylvia Horwitz began our session on the creative process by introducing the concept of "Red Sea time", that period in life where you can't go left or right, you can only plow ahead through challenges.  We all have encountered that time in our work and several of us spoke of how we try to move forward in such times. Some of us just try to do something, anything, until the process engulfs us.

Sylvia is a tango dancer and spoke of those times when one might have an injury and be unable to dance, how even thinking about it activated the muscle memory.   When we try to move past brick walls by moving forward we hope that the movement will trigger that muscle memory drawing us back to a creative state.

As part of our discussion we also explored water as a destructive force as reflected in the stories of Noah and of the Red Sea.

Sylvia shared her work photographing the mothers and grandmothers of the disappeared in Argentina and the associations with water.  She talked of the memorial there which is situated by water. This is juxtaposed with the fact that bodies were often dropped from airplanes into the water, essentially an unmarked mass grave. Most were taken to torture centers and of 5000, perhaps 200 survived. Jews were disproportionately represented among the disappeared.

Sylvia spoke of the many roadblocks she encountered in the course of this project and her process in moving through it.  She outlined four steps which echoed some of the discussion of the Kaballah from our prior session, an apt structure for a creative process (noted in parentheses).

Her process begins with Preparation which could be reading, writing, discussion or experimentation with new techniques. (Atzilut-gestation)

From there she moves to Immersion which requires being present and leaving distractions behind.  It is a time where many possibilities exist and boundaries need to be set. (Beriah- boundaries)

Then she moves deeper into Intention becoming one with her concept.  This is the action phase (Yetzirah-action).

Finally she thinks about presentation, curating and fine tuning. (Assiyah-outcome)

 Sylvia closed her portion of the presentation by some discussion of the role of discipline in creativity and shared a passage by Anna Deavere Smith from Letters to a Young Artist Straight-up Advice on Making a Life in the Arts for Actors, Performers, Writers and Artists of Every Kind.*

We briefly broke for a water-themed nosh of watercress, lox, water bagels and of course, water.  When we returned Carolyn Light Bell shared her photographic work and then presented some of her poetry which addresses water.  Using her poems as a starting point we broke off from the group and each wrote poetry on the theme of water. We then returned and read our creations, each unique and reflective of the individual creator.

 *For those of you who haven't previously seen Brainpickings, the link for the Anna Deavere Smith quote, it is a great newsletter for artists with relevant and thoughtful information.  You can get it by email.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

One Day, One Gallon

Lab 1.0  - January 13  by Robyn Awend

Lab 1.0 met in the theatre, choose a favorite flavor of popcorn and gathered to watch the film, Watermark. The film features Canadian photographer, Edward Burtynsky, dedicated to chronicling how man affects the environment, turning his attention from land to water with mesmerizing results. Burtynsky explores our relationship with water through the way we drink, dam, worship and rely on it, not to mention how we take it for granted. Some explanation is provided, but the film withholds both judgment and context. It serves as a survey of where things stand with the world – an invaluable record of our collective hand print for present and future generations.

Following the film, we had a discussion about our immediate thoughts and feelings in reaction to the film. Some relayed feelings of discomfort, others were in awe of its beauty, a few expressed thoughts of possible next steps. Before we departed, Liba gave us a One Day, One Gallon Water Challenge. Each of us received a one gallon jug of water which is to be used during an upcoming 24 hour period as our total consumption of water for that day. This includes cooking, bathing, drinking, etc. We will be sharing our experience at the next Lab, which will make for a most interesting discussion.

The film Watermark is available on Netflix for those who were unable to attend..