Detroit Passages: from Synagogue to Church

Every week we feature several artists participating in our current exhibit Silent Witnesses: Synagogues Transformed, Rebuilt, or Left Behind - Artists Respond to History.
Silent Witnesses is an art exhibit organized by the Cultural Heritage Artists Project, in collaboration with the Jewish Art Salon, JWalks and the Holocaust Memorial Center in Metro Detroit, February 22 - end of April.  Exhibit info here.

In the work Detroit Passages: from Synagogue to Church, Linda Soberman and Cynthia Beth Rubin undertook the double challenge of working together for the first time, and of researching/retelling the story of two Detroit buildings that began as synagogues, and, with the passage of time, were transformed into active churches.  

Through long distance telephone calls and emails the artists discovered that they shared an internet in bringing an artist's vision to the stories of the changes that these historic buildings, these "silent witnesses," had seen.  Soberman and Rubin met in person for the first time on a Saturday night in November, 2011.  Their spent that first Sunday morning touring the old Jewish neighborhoods of Detroit, finding the old synagogues and entering the Churches just as services ended and congregants mingled.  Together they photographed, observed, and listened.  Together they allowed the past and present to mingle in their artistic sensibility.

With a wealth of archival documents and photographic material, the artists made the decision to create an installation of multiple panels. Working long distance, via the internet, they passed imagery back and forth, each artist adding and evolving the layers of concept and image. Interaction between the two artists was lively, creative, spontaneous, and personal. The joy of the project was discovering not just the facts about the history of these congregations and their buildings, but how it is that different artistic sensibilities can come together to make a more complex, more layered work.


 Cynthia Beth Rubin is a new media artist whose works evoke cultural memories by intertwining photographic elements in complex layers of representation and abstraction.  

Bruxelles by Cynthia Beth Rubin
Working in both still and moving imagery, Rubin’s work has been shown in the Jewish Museum in Prague, opening night of the both the San Francisco and the Boston Jewish Film Festivals, the Pandaemonium Festival in London, Lavall Gallery in Novosibirsk, and diverse venues around the world. 

Awards include Vidéochroniques in Marseilles, the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, and various international residencies. Her work has been featured in numerous publications, with artist feature articles appearing in more than 10 languages.  She works independently and in collaboration.  A native of Rochester, NY, she lives in New Haven and works wherever she goes.


Linda Soberman is a printmaker and educator with studios in Michigan and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Her work is widely represented in national and international venues including recent exhibitions in Michigan, Mexico, Argentina, and China. During her career as an artist, she has translated ideas into a variety of media: photography, printmaking, artists books, found object sculpture and installation. 

Her current multimedia work embraces themes of memory, loss and the collective impact of the Holocaust. She is the recipient of many awards and fellowships, including the Lifetime Achievement Jewish Woman in the Arts Award, international residencies in Venice, Italy, Sanbao Institute, Jingdezhen, China, Proyecto ‘ace in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and a recent invitation to Guanlan Residency in China. She was recently included in the book, Jewish Women in the Arts. Her work will be in the upcoming exhibition “Spectrum of Sexuality”  at the Museum of the Hebrew Union College, New York City. In 2013, the Museo de Arte, Queretaro, GTO, Mexico, and the Museo de Bellas Artes in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, will feature her work in a solo exhibition.

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