New York's JEP initiative features one innovative artist each year and has selected Jan Lauren Greenfield for the 2014-2015 cycle. Ms. Greenfield’s Twelve Tribe Project, which opens December 9, examines the archetypes and symbols associated with each of the twelve tribes and replaces them with a pop culture star. Greenfield’s research was derived from years of study of traditional scripture, exegetical text, and shamanic interpretation. The biographical data and film history of each actor was then matched with a corresponding tribe.
In this exclusive interview with the Jewish Art Salon, Ms. Greenfield answers a few questions about her new show.
Jan Lauren Greenfield: The 12 tribes of Israel come from the 12 sons of Israel . Israel was the name G-d gave Jacob and his 12 sons and their descendants make up the different tribes .
A few years ago I was living in California and got involved with earth based Judaism. An embodying of the teachings where the earth , the directions and the ritual becomes part of the celebration of Judaism. I did intensive learnings and began to explore the symbology of the 12 tribes. I also included Dinah, Jacob’s only daughter as the 13 piece in the series.
Dinah represents the moon in the series. When you see the number 12 the association goes to the signs of the zodiac and then Dinah becomes representation of the moon or the 13th symbol.
JAS: How long were you working on this? Did you know that you wanted to do this type of series when you were in California?
JLG: I get that question often and it's a hard one to answer because in some ways it's project of been working on for about five years. I pretty soon knew that I wanted to create some visual representation of the 12 tribes but it would actually take me a couple years, before the final piece, including the pop culture tribe, clicked.
JAS: Can you speak a little bit more about making art and your process?
JLG: So the idea starts in my head and take anywhere from a week germinating in there to months or in the case of The Twelve Tribe project a few years. Once I begin working on canvas things can move quickly especially if I have all the images I want and if there is little manipulation or transferring that I am doing. There is a great quote that is something like- Art is the refuse left behind by someone in deep personal transformation. I often feel like that. Sometimes the work I have made is like the shedding of the snake’s skin.
JAS: And what's next for you?
JLG: Well the 12 Tribes show opening reception is on the December ninth at the Jewish Education Project . Early in 2015 in January I'll be launching my book at the Sundance film Festival. And I'm hoping to take the 12 tribes project to the next level and who knows maybe even in Israel.
The Exhibit is open to the public.
A Twelve Tribe Project, plus New Works in Mixed Media &Photography
A three series showcase of the work of Jan Lauren Greenfield
October 1st , 2014 – June 30th, 2015
Reception December 9th 6-8pm
The Jewish Education Project
520 8th Avenue, Suite 1500
New York NY
Jan Lauren Greenfield is a Mixed Media Artist born and raised in New York City. Her solo show “Am I Too Young for a Retrospective?" was featured in the New York Food and Wine Festival. She has produced events in conjunction with the United Nations and the Jewish Heritage Museum. Ms. Greenfield has written for Sadie Magazine, Elephant Journal and her photographs are featured in Vogue Italia online. Ms. Greenfield began practicing Yoga in Nepal at age 18 and is an E-RYT 200 yoga teacher and a certified Wilderness First Responder.
See more of her work here.
IG: @lovejanlauren T: @jan_lauren