Thursday, June 25, 2015

Ending on High Tides

Joint Lab 6/23/15 by Robyn Awend
Water has been our source of inspiration for the past year. It has quenched our thirst for knowledge, satiated personal and artistic growth, and created fluid connections with others.

Tuesday was our last Lab of the season. We gathered in our large group of nearly 30 and began with a nigun (song) about water, as we often do.  Rabbi Davis introduced Proverb 27:19: “As in water the face to the face, so the heart of man to the man.” We analyzed the Hebrew and English versions, discussing what this could mean. The group responded, “Water takes the shape of its vessel, as does the heart.” “Water is the connecting link to all things, as the heart connects us to one another.” “We can see our self in water's reflection, as we can reflect love onto our self.”For further discussion, Rabbi Davis & Meryll went on to share several thoughts from various sources about its meaning (from King James, JPS, A. Bible, ISV, etc.).

He then raised the question, “How does your artwork reflect who you are?” It was silent for a while as contemplation set i. Slowly, we went around and shared our thoughts –for some it was about our personal work serving as a direct reflection of who we are…..or the essence of the individual….or a product of where we are and where we want to be.

The follow up question was raised, “Has your experience with the Lab allowed you to connect with another person in the Lab in a significant way?” Two people sitting next to each other immediately hugged, two others caught eyes and smiled, and another raised her hand and shared about her connection to community.

We were then invited to stand together in silence. We were guided to flow like water, and at the sound of the bell, stopping and facing the person next to us while exchanging a moment of silence, together.  This lasted several rounds, there were hugs exchanged, smiles shared and even tears shed. We then gathered hands and danced and sang shuv-tey-mayim.
After a short break Liba and Yoni introduced us to a collaborative initiative that each of us would contribute to –a water symphony.  Juxtaposed to our recent exercise in silence, we now gathered around a series of tables to create sounds with interesting vessels filled with water (wine glasses, tubs, containers, etc.) and a slew of sound making gadgets (bath toys, sponges, straws, ladles, etc.).  We were each asked to choose one gadget and one vessel with which to create a sound. In complete silence, one by one, we began to create our individual water sounds, adding to the collaborative symphony.  As Liba tapped our shoulders, it was our turn to stop and just listen as the symphony faded to one last sound of water being squeeze from a sponge into a large pan. Yoni recorded this symphony, along with everyone else who had a recording device. We were exhilarated to be part of this two+ minutes of art in the making. Click here to hear our result.

The last exercise of the day was to create and record a unique breath, different than the person before you. We went around in a circle and shared our breath, some calm, others rapid, a few mysterious….

We closed the Lab by offering any last comments or shared thoughts. The room was overflowing with gratitude and a feeling of completeness.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Into the Mikvah's Waters

6/16/2015. Lab 2.0 by Paula Pergament

Lab 2.0 came to a close at Paula Pergament's lakeside home, a fitting conclusion for our theme of water.

Water and stone.

We each took one hand-sized rock from a pile of rocks Joel Carter contributed...We sat on the dock right over the water...contemplating thoughts ...holding our chosen stone.

Joel shared a poem about water.
The rest of us spoke a thought,
a word, a wish, a dream,
a trouble, a pain...
and each of us gave our words and stones 'into the mikvah's water'...

Rani's father's yahrzeit was last night and she chose to honor his memory by placing a stone gently into the lake...

Diane passionately shouted & with gleeful energy threw her rock far into the water.

It began to rain, so we headed inside to finish our lab inside at the kitchen table.  Wrapping rocks with beautiful Japanese rice papers, that represented water in color or by design, & twine.

Chatting about previous art labs, ideas for next year's lab, & eating 'water'melon, pecan'sandies' and chocolate ( not water related ...
but necessary).

A casual ambiance sat gently at the table with us.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Rivers of Babylon

June 9, 2015 Lab 1.0 by Meryll Page

 Is water a memory trigger for you?  That was the discussion question for Lab 1.0 during the June 9th session.  We analyzed Psalm 137—“By the waters of Babylon, There we sat and we wept as we remembered Tzion.”  As opposed to our personal experiences remembering by a body of water, this psalm is a collective memory that preserves the profound sadness and anger of the Israelite exiles post 586 BCE. The harsh ending of the psalm led to an emotional discussion of art as a process of confronting sadness and anger in our own lives. 

Liba continued Meryll’s text lesson with an invitation to the participants to write about memories of a specific body of water.  One word of those memories was transferred to paper to add to Camille Gage’s work, I am Water—an interactive public artwork that challenges viewers to consider their relationship to the Earth’s water resources.  All contributed to the river of images and words begun in the previous lab which will be part of our exhibit.

Rewriting History

Sharon Zweigbaum's talk on public art gave many of us food for thought. I especially enjoyed Meryll Page's contemplation of public art as a vehicle in Russia for rewriting history.  You can find her blog at Absurdist Sculpture-Russian Style