Silent Witnesses - Ellen Alt's Kol HaNeshama in Jerusalem

Every week we feature several artists' projects in our current exhibit Silent Witnesses: Synagogues Transformed, Rebuilt, or Left Behind - Artists Respond to History.

This is a collaborative art exhibit organized by the Cultural Heritage Artists Project, with the Jewish Art Salon,  JWalks and the Holocaust Memorial Center. February 22 - April 14 in Metro Detroit. Exhibit info here.

Ellen Alt -
Kehilat Kol Haneshama, Jerusalem: A Constant in a Changing Capitol
"My piece is an exploration of Jerusalem through the eyes of Kehilah Kol Haneshama (KKH), a progressive congregation in Baka/Geulim.  KKH was founded 25 years ago when Jerusalem, while diverse, was relatively integrated and prosperous.

The city has experienced many migrations in recent decades, becoming more divided between its Arab and Jewish populations, and has been the site of both intifadas and peace summits. There has been an exodus of its young, secular and middle-class residents as well as its Christian community.  Jerusalem has also welcomed a new wave of Muslim, Ethiopian and Russian immigrants, and Orthodox Jews.  As a result, observant programs and centers of learning have flourished.

My artwork echoes the many layers of the city of Jerusalem. The white stone background is the mandatory building material of all Jerusalem construction as well as the Western Wall in the Old City. The three colored petal shapes refer to the well-known medieval map of the city surrounded by Europe, Asia and Africa. The three shapes also refer to the three religions that venerate the city of Jerusalem. The increasing and decreasing calligraphic words surrounding the Kehilah tell the story of a city on the move. Each shape word is written in the language that best conveys its meaning.

At the center is Kehilah Kol Hanshama, still a dynamic and successful congregation. I lived in Jerusalem for 11 years, 1990-2001; Kol Haneshama was my synagogue, a rock of consistency in a city in flux."

Ellen Alt has exhibited her mixed media artwork in the U.S, Israel, Germany, former Soviet Union, China and England. One of her pieces was presented to Hillary Clinton in Jerusalem on the occasion of the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan. She received a BFA in art education from the Massachusetts College of Art and an MA in studio art from New York University. She is an instructor in the graduate education program at Brandeis University. In New York City, she is the artist-in-residence at the Park Avenue Synagogue and teaches mixed media art courses to adults at the 92nd St. Y. In addition, Alt organizes community sculpture and mural projects in the Middle East, India, England and throughout the United States.

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