Judaica by Harriete Estel Berman Feed

A new exhibition -- "Evil: A Matter of Intent"

The exhibition "Evil: A Matter of Intent" has opened at Hebrew Union College in New York City.  I couldn't be more proud to have my work in this thought provoking exhibition. The curator, Laura Kruger, selected two pieces from my new series, "10 MODERN PLAGUES." Berman-Water-Pollution-Blood-Plague-1920Blood - Water Pollution from the 10 MODERN PLAGUES

Berman-Water-Pollution-Blood-Plague-cu1920

Evil: A Matter of Intent explores several questions.  Why does evil exist?  How is it manifested?  From whom or from what is it derived? According to the Hebrew bible and rabbinic teachings, all humans have some capability or predisposition to commit acts of evil, or what is known in Hebrew as yetzer hara. Philosophers argue that such inclinations are not inherently malicious, yet can easily become evil if not confronted.

In this exhibition, topics include the Ten Plagues, the Golem, the Shoah and the proliferation of acts of violence including genocides worldwide.*

 


Packing images and repair 064On the practical side of delivering artwork to an exhibition, shipping is always a challenge.  In this series, 10 MODERN PLAGUES, each piece presents unique challenges for safe shipping.  The left photo is a preview of my packing solution.   A more thorough examination of the packing will be the subject of an upcoming post on ASK Harriete.  It may be worth the close inspection because the Hebrew Union College staff said this about my packing . . .  "We are all in awe of your ingenuity in packaging. I had my registrar photograph them in situ."

Packing solution for artwork of Blood Water PollutionTo all the readers of ASK Harriete, I hope that if you are planning to be in New York some time during the next seven months you will make a point of going to this powerful exhibition. 

Exhibition dates: September 1, 2015 - June 30, 2016

I am going to the opening.
Will you meet me at the opening?

Opening  is October 21, from 5 - 7 pm.  

Berman-Blight-World-Hunger-Master72Blight - World Hunger  

Berman-Blight-World-Hunger-10 Modern Plagues

(Above and Left) These photos show Blight-World Hunger which is also in the exhibition "Evil- A Matter of Intent." 

More information:
Location: Hebrew Union College Museum
One West Fourth Street (between Broadway and Mercer Street)
New York City

Subway: N/R/W to 8th Street (NYU); 6 to Astor Place; A/C/E/B/D.M to West 4th Street

Packing details for shipping artwork to an exhibition.Hours: Monday-Thursday, 9 am – 5 pm; Friday, 9 am – 3 pm

Admission: FREE. Government-issued photo ID required.


Group Tours and Information:
212-824-2298 or hucjirmuseum@huc.edu
www.huc.edu/museum/ny

Evil-A-Matter-of-Intent-invitationArtists in the show: 

Andi Arnovitz
Debra Band
Harriete Estel Berman
Leon Bibel
Andres Borocz
Beverly Brodsky
Lynda Caspe 
Larry Frankel
Tommy Gelb
Linda Gissen
Carol Hamoy
Nathan Hilu
Ruben Malayan
Richard McBee

*Description of the exhibition from the press release provided by Hebrew Union College. When I go to the show, I will be sure to write more extensively about the exhibition.

RELATED INFORMATION: 
Article about the curator Laura Kruger. "...she has stood alone among curators and Jewish museums, providing an often singular forum for emerging contemporary Jewish visual culture." Read more at the link below: Laura Kruger At The Hebrew Union College Museum


Recycle, Repurpose and the Meaning of Materials - a short presentation

During the first nights of Hanukkah, I'd like to share this lecture that I gave at The Magnes Collection about four Hanukkah menorahs in their collection.

The goal is to share insights that anyone can use when viewing artwork in an exhibition, or working from the perspective as an artist or maker developing their own work.

The concept of "The Meaning of Materials" is an important consideration that will be explored further in future posts.

 

Watch Recycled, Repurpose and the Meaning of Materials directly on YouTube. You are welcome to share or embed this lecture. 

 

RELATED POSTS: 

Abracadabra - What Is Said Will Be - I Create as I Speak
Museum Storage of the Collection at The Magnes Museum
Tzedakah Boxes at The Magnes Collection
Museums Save Ordinary as Extraordinary
The Magnes Museum Collection Cradles Extraordinary Objects and Textiles

 


"Recycle, Repurpose and the Meaning of Materials" Lecture

Recycle-Repurpose-Meaning-Materials.V

You're invited to my lecture at The Magnes Collection. Three of their menorahs (shown below) will be on display as discuss these objects along with some of my Judaica work within the framework of Recycle, Repurpose and the Meaning of Materials.  This lecture will be followed by a Q&A discussion with the audience. This event is free. 

Please join us for this lunch time event - Wednesday, October 29, 2014. The talk will begin at 12:00pm, noon and end around 12:40pm. Then there will be about 20 minutes for the audience to ask questions. 

The Magnes Collection: 
2121 Allston Way
Berkeley, CA 93704
510.643.2526

One block from BART in downtown Berkeley.

Hanukkah-Menorah-Al Farrow-2008-35_1
Hanukkah Menorah by Al Farrow from Gun parts 2005

67-1-4-47_1Brass-Tray-Hanukkah copy
Repurposed brass tray used as Hanukkah lamp, Italy, 17th century

 

Crimped-Metal-Sheet-Hanukkah-lamp
Crimped metal sheet Hanukkah lamp, USA, 1909


89-16a-bMenorah.Large
Repurposed Hanukkah lamp from tin and sheet metal, Morocco, 20th century

Here are some questions...what are yours?

What is the difference between recycled and repurposed materials when used in artwork?

Does the selection of certain materials imbue meaning in the finished work and how does this contribute to a viewer's perception of the object?

Related Posts:

Museum Storage of the Collection at The Magnes Museum

Tzedakah Boxes at The Magnes Collection

Museums Save Ordinary as Extraordinary

The Magnes Museum Collection Cradles Extraordinary Objects and Textiles


Tin, Tzedakah and Seeing the Ordinary

L'Chaim-Kiddush-Cup-InvitationalIn 1997 I was invited for the first time to participate in the invitational show hosted by the Contemporary Jewish Museum. I'd seen (and was inspired by) a few of the previous shows where they invited contemporary artists and makers to create pieces of Judaica.  The results were beyond expectations or gift store tchotche.

This was a very exciting opportunity -- but what to make? The theme was the kiddush cup.

While considered the theme, I wanted to use recycled tin cans, something that I had been working with for about 7 years at the time. Racking my brain, vague memories of the tin Tzedakah boxes from my childhood came to mind. I hadn't seen one for a long time..... no one collects charity a penny or nickel at a time.

I asked my father, "Do you have a tin Tzedakah box in a closet somewhere?"  Or do you know anyone that might have a Tzedakah box stuck in a corner somewhere?"Tzedakah-boxes-Jewish-National-Fund-box

Within 10 days he sent me 14 boxes just like the one above. This tzedakah box design for the Jewish National Fund design dates from the mid-20th century.

From those first tin boxes I made this Kiddush cup.

Kiddish cup constructed from Pushke Boxes for Jewish National Fund  by Harriete Estel Berman

Making Judaica from recycled tin seemed heretical.

What would people think? Making a ceremonial object for a museum exhibition from unwanted, ordinary "pushke boxes" seemed irreverent. Working with recycled materials was very rare at the time, even embarrassing. Recycled and repurposed materials had not yet become the eco-trend of the 21st century.

The big surprise for me was how well received this new direction was at so many levels.

A lesson for everyone to try unexpected solutions for their art or craft. This risk started a whole new series of work that continues to this day.  

Since then, many people have given me their tin tzedakah boxes. Instead of throwing them away, they give their boxes a new life. Tzedakah boxes 015

The ordinary tin boxes carry memories of ritual, and observation from another generation. It is odd that the boxes have no value, but they are too valuable to be thrown away. That was why it was so exciting to see "Tzedakah Boxes at The Magnes Collection."

Tzedakah boxes historical Jewish National Fund Box for charity 

Reusing materials can carry information
 beyond the humble materials. The history of the object or the materials carries meaning. The materials contribute to the new purpose.

Berman Scents of peaceSpice Box Besamin from recycled tin cans

Since 1997, humble tin "pushke boxes" have been used in many peices.

Tzedakah 9 envelopes made from tzedakah Pushke boxes and recycled tin cans.

This photos shows "Tzedakah" 50 envelopes from recycled tin cans. 

Tzedakah72

So are there ordinary objects or materials that could bring new meaning to your work?


Tzedakah Boxes at The Magnes Collection

WP_20140620_023

During my tour behind the scenes in the storage area of The Magnes, Curator, Dr. Francesco Sagnolo, opened a drawer containing Tzedakah boxes.  

Drawers in the storage area of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and CultureHow did he know that these small tin boxes would be my favorite objects of the day.

drawer of Tzedakah boxes at The Magnes CollectionThese tzedakah boxes 
are printed tin used to collect coins for charity. 

Once even a humble tin Tzedakah box enters a museum collection, it is documented and stored with reverence.  

Tzedakah-boxes-Magnes-Collectioin

Tzedakah boxes are often called "puske" boxes in Yiddish. The boxes have little value as an object, or materials, yet are very hard to find. They document a time and place when a penny, nickel or dime was collected for charity. Coins would add up to significant donations in another time.

While these are not religious objects, they often have sentimental value or even serve historical documentation.(Starting with the box on the far left in the above photo...)

Tzedakah-box-tin-Magnes-israel-JNF-94-13-2_1

This Tzedakah box from The Magnus Collection (above) shows an early map of what is now called Israel, Gaza, and Lebanon. This is an area we hear about every night in the news. The box carries historical perspective from about the 1920's before borders were designated by international negotiations and modern maps. It portrays a concept of Israel before it even existed as a nation. 

Sometimes Tzedakah boxes were for a specific organization -- kind of like a special savings account set up for donations.

This green tzedakah box (shown below) with Hebrew lettering says:
Tzedakah-boxes-Magnes-Collection-Hebrew-Green
 "Tzedakah (alms) in memory of Rabbi Meir Baal Hachayim, Hungarian "kollel" [religious community study room], [...] Jerusalem". (Translation from Dr. Daniel Viragh)


The Tzedakah box
(shown below) is from Vienna, Austria. 

Tzedakah-box-tin-vienna-Magnes-69-62_1

The coin slot opening at the top was equipped internally with linked chains to make more noise when the coins were placed in the box.  

Tzedakah-boxes-tin-Magnes-69.62-metal-box

Usually Tzedakah boxes were humble materials such as painted tin, brass or copper.  The cylindrical box (left- created 1801 - 1900) has a clasp and loop for a small lock. Even more than a century ago, it was necessary to keep honest people honest.

Humble objects and modest materials can communicate values and meaning beyond the intrinsic materials themselves. 

I had completely forgotten about the little blue tin Tzedakah box of my childhood until 1997 when vague memories of tin boxes surfaced for a new direction in my work... this is THE next post. 

PS. I will be lecturing at The Magnes Collection on Wednesday, October 29th for a short lunch time lecture and discusion. Please consider coming. Admission is free. 


Space Available in Upcoming Workshop

Harriete Estel Berman working on her seder plate for TuBishvat
Recycle, Repurpose,
                             RETHINK Materials

 There is still space left! to take this workshop with me at the Contemporary Jewish Museum  on Earth Day.
Sunday April 22,  2:30 - 5:00p.m

$18 includes admission to the Contemporary Jewish Museum, materials, and refreshments.

Celebrate Earth Day with an art workshop focused on recycled and repurposed materials.

Pomegranate angle on my seder plate for TuBishvat by Harriete Estel BermanTake a peek at the exhibition Do Not Destroy: Trees, Art, and Jewish Thought, roll up your sleeves for ideas and inspiration with artist Harriete Estel Berman, then gather your own creativity to make samples and hands-on projects that bring post-consumer materials and eco-awareness into your classroom. Co-presented by SCRAP.

TuBishvat Seder Plate by Harriete Estel Berman is on display at the Contemporary Jewish Museum eite SAe
  TuBishvat Seder plate  by Harriete Estel
  Berman titled Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,
  Assiyah, Yetzirah, Beriyah,   
© 2001
  Post consumer recycled tin casn,
  Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

The workshop will be inspired by my use of post consumer, recycled materials for over 24 years to construct artwork ranging from jewelry and teacups to entire lawns and sculpture with social commentary.  Judaica focuses on the concept of Tikkun Olam (repair of the world) with the use of recycled tin cans.

This workshop is designed for teachers to gather ideas.

If you want to celebrate Earth Day with me on Saturday be prepared to work outside. I organize an Earth Day Clean Up for my neighborhood every year. Weeding for 8 hours is on the agenda, but help for only a few hours is completely fine. This is in San Mateo. Come help!

Fawn in the back yard
Fawn in my backyard.

California Quail in the front yard
Quail on my front steps.

Roots at Jekyll Island in Georgia2010
Amazing photo taken on Jekyll Island, Georgia.


Sticker Shock or A Real Bargain - It's All Relative To Framing

An editorial by Ryan Jones in The Crafts Report (November 2011) brought a fascinating TED Talk to my attention. Dan Ariely explains how "framing" different options can influence purchasing decisions.

Quoting Ryan Jones, editor of The Crafts Report, "Some people wonder why they should bring along some higher-priced items to a craft fair, especially if it's unlikely they will sell them. But, framing means that your highest-priced items can be a sales tool ...". Listen to the TED Talk by Dan Ariely to learn more about this concept.

TEDlogoI recommend listening to the TED Talk all the way to the end because it explains the logic behind why we artists should always have a big show stopper piece of artwork in our booths or in an exhibition to sell the smaller items. After the video, take a look at an example about how I am trying to apply this reasoning for my Judaica.

FIG Leaves and figs in an abstraction on my Tu Bishvat Seder plateHere is my practical example.
Right now I have a Seder plate for Tu Bishvat in the exhibition DO NOT DESTROY at the Contemporary Jewish Museum. The price places this work outside the average consumer. My aspiration (or wish come true) is that a museum will buy this work for their permanent collection. 

Yellow Flower Scroll Mezuzah by Harriete Estel Berman Yellow Flower with Scroll Mezuah from recycled materials by Harriete Estel BermanTwo weeks before the museum exhibition opened,  I contacted the museum gift shop about selling some of my Mezuzot. Each mezuzah is priced at $175. That may put some people into sticker shock compared to the usual gift shop item, but it is a real bargain for the labor, preparation, skills, and design in each mezuzah. 

At the same time,  the mezuzot are affordable examples of my work with an environmental message that can be used every day. 

Everything is relative, and there are many factors that may influence the purchaser's decision including the perceived value of the artwork in the exhibition, and the validation provided by being included in the museum exhibition Do Not Destroy.

Keep this strategy in mind for your booth or next show. While the masterpiece of the show may or may not sell, it may be a prime factor in selling the other work.

I sold seven mezuzot during the show.

Harriete

 
Inside STAR of Tu Bishvat Seder plate by Harriete Estel Berman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Assiyah, Yetzirah, Beriyah ©  2011 by Harriete Estel Berman

(Above photo) Close up view of the center of the Tu Bishvat seder plate. If you shine a light on the center of the seder plate it reflects a Star of David on the ceiling(shown below.)
Star REFLECTION on CEILING  from Tu Bishvat Seder plate by Harriete Estel Berman

Tu Bishvat Seder plate by Harriete Estel Berman
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Assiyah, Yetzirah, Beriyah
                                                          ©     2011

Artist:Harriete Estel Berman
DIMENSIONS: 6” ht x 24” w x 20" d

Follow Me on PinterestIf you are interested in viewing the design, and fabrication of this Judaica TuBishvat seder plate, CLICK HERE to view an entire album on Flickr with step by step photos for this work in progress.


Happy Chanukah or "Eating Chinese Food on Christmas"

Chanukah already started and I forgot to tell you about my favorite books and resources for contemporary Judaica. The selection is small, in my opinion, but the potential audience for this genre has room for growth.

500 JudaicaLast year Lark Books published 500 Judaica: Innovative Contemporary Ritual Art. (Affiliate link) I  am very pleased to say that I have have several pieces in this book.    


A Collector's Guide to Judaica

 A Collectors' Guide to Judaica(Affiliate link) has an interesting selection of historical pieces with informative text. (It only has a few 20th century peices of Judaica.) 

 

 

 

Are you looking for images of contemporary Judaica that is not the generic gift store item?

L'ChaimThe Contemporary Jewish Museum still has a selection of catalogs from their Invitational Exhibitions. (The Museum Store ships domestically and internationally. Place an order by email, store@thecjm.org, or phone, 415.655.7888.)

In the order listed here (right):
L'Chaim!: A Kiddush Cup Invitational

 

Making ChangeMaking Change: 100 Artists Interpret the Tzedakah Box.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ScentsofPurposeScents of Purpose: Artists Interpret the Spice Box

 

 

 

 

 

New WorksOldStories 


New Works, Old Stories

These catalogs are not listed online, but they are all beautifully executed with images of Judaica within traditional forms and beyond the expected.

Email me, I will make a recommendation for a catalog based on your interest.

BermanBookManCreation

Participation in the exhibitions at the Contemporary Jewish Museum has offered me the opportunity to create museum quality Judaica.

Many of the pieces that I made for these exhibitions have been purchased for the permanent collections of museums.

BermanBook7DayCreation

Shown to the left is "And there is Light" a spice book that holds a Havdalah box. 



If you are interested, all of my Judaica is shown on my web site.

Book with Havadalah Spice Box by Harriete Estel Berman
"And There was Light"                  2004

Seven hinged panels to create an accordion style book with removable Spice Box. This contemporary Judaica is constructed from recycled tin cans, spice tins, vintage steel dollhouses, 10 k. gold rivets, aluminum rivets, stainless steel screws. Available for purchase or exhibition.

Each panel    14.25” height x 9” width
Length of book completely open is 54".

 

Menorah by Harriete Estel Berman
Facets of Light        1999

Menorah constructed from pre-printed steel from recycled tin containers, "Pushke" Boxes used for the Jewish National Fund, and pre-printed steel from vintage doll houses. Aluminum rivets. One-half inch acrylic cubes function as feet under the menorah. Available for purchase or exhibition.

3" height x 21" width x 25.5" length

Menorah Jewish Star by Harriete Estel Berman from recycled materials.


M2L_YellowFlowerScroll72. askH
M2L_YellowFlowerScroll_bkah

Yellow Flower Scroll Doorpost Mezuzah
Dimensions: 7.25” Inventory number M2L.220
Retail Price $220. (Scroll not included)