Silent Witnesses: Synagogues Transformed, Rebuilt or Abandoned - Collaborative Art Exhibit with the Jewish Art Salon

Artists Respond to History

Holocaust Memorial Center
28123 Orchard Lake Road
Farmington Hills, MI 48334 (Metro Detroit)

Hours: Sun - Thurs 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM, Fri 9:30 AM – 3:00 PM 
Tel: (248) 553-2400.

“Silent Witnesses” is a collaboration of the Cultural Heritage Artists Project,  the Jewish Art Salon, JWalks, and the Holocaust Memorial Center. All of the works in this exhibit are being shown for the first time. 

On February 20th, 2012, the innovative new exhibition Silent Witnesses: Synagogues Transformed, Rebuilt or Abandoned opens at the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

The 23 participating artists explore the intersection of community migration and Jewish heritage by researching abandoned synagogues throughout the United States, Europe, India and Israel, and creating paintings, photographs, installations and videos woven from the stories of the historic spaces.  

With this exhibition, the Cultural Heritage Artists Project continues its pioneering work in developing an innovative model of artist initiated and organized exhibitions, based on the belief that by working together around a shared theme artists can create new works with meaning, while engaging in an artistic dialogue that encourages new aesthetic explorations.

As the world of the artist expands beyond the narrow confines of the art market, we are seeking a way to create exhibitions from the ground up that involve artists as creative thinkers. We wanted to stimulate artistic discourse within the community, not discourage artists by burying them under a mound of proposal writing and other paperwork.

We gave artists a topic and time to research this topic, think about the topic in new and inventive ways, and then to make new work emerging from their own artistic process. 

Artists have always shared work in development with other artists.  Thirty years ago, we shared studio space.  Today, we can supplement that sharing with the internet.  For this project, we used a private website where artists' first ideas, and then works in progress, and finally finished pieces were available to other artists to view. What emerged - and what we hope will continue to develop for the next time - is a shared sense of invention. 

The inclusion of scholarly essays in this publication is central to our mission.  We are engaging topics.  We have insights, we have ideas, we have ways to illuminate. 

Working with the Holocaust Memorial Center in Detroit has opened a meaningful exchange of ideas.  How do we display history, how do we make the past accessible?  

Participating artists: Mel Alexenberg, Ellen Alt, Aileen Bassis, Miriam Benjamin, Siona Benjamin, Edith C. Dreikurs, Camille Eskel, James Stone Goodman, Rachel Kanter, Stacy Leeman, Martin Mendelsberg, Jacob Mezrahi, Joan Roth, Cynthia Beth Rubin, Ben Schachter, Susan Shender, Linda Soberman, Miriam Stern, Saul Sudin, Julian Voloj, Yona Verwer, Ahron Weiner and Todd Weinstein.

Catalog essays by Samuel D. Gruber, Ruth Ellen Gruber, Stephen M. Goldman, Deborah Kovsky-Apap, and Aaron Rosen.

Exhibit organizers: 
Cynthia Beth Rubin - Cultural Heritage Artists Project
Yona Verwer - Jewish Art Salon
Julian Voloj - JWalks
Linda Soberman

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