Art Kibbutz's first residency

By Patricia Eszter Margit, Art Kibbutz Director

As the Putnam Valley, NY rouses itself from its wintry slumber the rich and vibrant landscape of Eden Village will be enlarged and enhanced by several pieces of art installed and made part of this land's long history by thirty international Jewish artists who participated in the first artist residency of Art Kibbutz. 

Devora Neumark (Montreal) and Deborah Margo (Ottawa) created PRESENT WITH THE WIND during the first session of Art Kibbutz May 1 to 7.  Utilizing organic parchment paper, thread and materials found in the forest, this installation, intentionally temporary is intended to suggest the connections between Heaven and Earth.  The locality informs both structure and placement: the contents all come from the surrounding floor and flora. The placement of the ten parchment membranes hanging around the lakeside are moved by the sun and wind from dawn to dawn.  Inspired by the work of James Turrell and Sook Jin Jo is intended to encourage contemplation of the connections between heaven and earth in the week before Shavuot.

Ceramic artist Emmett Leader has created a beautiful gateway for the 2.5 acre organic garden that The Jewish Farm School's intentional community is developing day by day.  This gateway consisting of an arch that holds five beautiful friezes and 15 foot poles braided together was dedicated on our Open Studio day on May 12th, when more than eighty people -- friends, journalists, families, came to spend the day, visiting artists' studios, enjoying the beauty of the awakening landscape, appreciating what some of them have helped create with their generous donations, and all getting to know Eden Village.  

They all got more than a glimpse of "The Jewish Waltz with Planet Earth" residency, which is leaving behind numerous flags made by Carrol Philips, called 'Gateway to Her Dwelling'. Having painted interpretations of the Shekinah's dwelling for many years, Carol attended Art Kibbutz to honor her differently: by creating an installation composed of fabrics adorned with Hebrew letters. In nature, the materials and mystical qualities of the Hebrew letters are further animated by vagaries of wind and light, both attributes associated with Her presence.

For the entire time of the retreat Asherah Cinnamon from Maine and Nikki Green from Western Australia have been busy scouring the woodlands of the campgrounds, the hills surrounding the glacial lake collecting the branches, roots and saplings which they have used to construct a twelve foot shin representing the Shma:Listen which has been moved from the studio toward the lakeside.  At sunset it was launched and set afloat on the lake. Its vibrations will long remain in this valley.

The water inspired Cynthia Beth Rubin is creating a video portrait based on the micro motives found in the mud of the lake. 

Israeli composer Kobi Arad's improvisation explored the Divine Names of Hashem in nature. Kobi created an entirely new musical language based on Kabbalistic numerology that inspired several collaborations. He started recording his new CD at Art Kibbutz and created a groundbreaking collaboration with Ikhlaq Hussein Khan, Pakistani sitar maestro who is on a similar quest from a Sufi perspective. Diversity has been one of the most unique elements of our experience as art created a common ground for open and serious discourse. The residency provided a peaceful environment where faculty  leading professors from Canada seriously engaged on a range of topics with an orthodox emerging artist from Latin America in his twenties. The atmosphere was safe enough for participants to be able to engage with artists from different disciplines, often differing from themselves in fundamental was. Yet, collaborations, mentoring relationships, friendships, and even love affairs were formed. 
Jackie Brookner initiated a joint art project on an environmental theme that will hopefully reach beyond this retreat and provide even more artists with the opportunity to engage in this very important theme.  
It is not possible to report on the doings of all the participants, the writers, sculptors, dancers and musicians whose work will bear fruit as the leaves now blossoming fall to the ground.  But we know the Art Kibbutz community, Eden Village and the Jewish art world has been enriched by the hands, hearts and minds of all those who have been inspired by the natural beauty of Putnam Valley.  The professional and cultural experience of Art Kibbutz enabled our gifted participants to transform the inspirational environment into work, which contributes to the constantly transforming Jewish sensibility and culture.  This experience extends the knowledge and capacity of Art Kibbutz, which enables us to pursue with increasing confidence our goal to be a transformational force in Jewish culture.

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