Thursday, October 18

‘Atonement,’ fresh beginnings highlight exhibit


New gallery show celebrates Judaism, holiday season

By Barbara E. Hernandez

Daily Bruin Staff

The month of September holds special meaning to Jews, a month
centering around Judaism’s high holidays, a time of moral analysis
and the celebration of the new year. The Kerckhoff Art Gallery
honors the high holidays with the exhibit, "What Jews Do in
September: Accounting and Atoning," banding together numerous
Jewish artists to present their impressions of holidays from Rosh
Hashanah to Sukkot. Each piece illustrates atonement, tradition and
fertility in differing artistic media.

"We tried to write up explanatory notes for the art and
artifacts," says Tzili Mor, co-director of the Kerckhoff Art
Gallery, afraid the display of Judaica may confuse those not
familiar with it. "The holidays try to prepare you ethically and
morally for the new year."

Coming on the heels of Sukkot, the last holiday of the season,
the art show closes a chapter on a religious and spiritual time.
"The exhibit is not about being Jewish, but about a general theme
of New Year and new beginnings. We chose the theme of the Jewish
New Year to coincide with the school’s new year," says Mor.

The gallery features artists using a variety of media. Amy
Goldenberg, a graduate student of library science in the newly
installed Graduate School of Education and Informational Science,
is a master of the papercut. Using fall colors of burnt orange and
brown, Goldenberg’s shivit, "Shiviti for Sukkot", a traditional
Jewish papercutting, manages to convey the feel of a home during
Sukkot, complete with shiviti, palm fronds and Byzantine terraced
walls.

As an undergraduate in art, Goldenberg specialized in metal
arts. In her last semester of college she discovered the ancient
art of papercutting and loved it. "I decided to try one and I was
hooked," she says.

She was so hooked that she wrote her first book on the subject,
"Papercutting: Reviving a Jewish Folk Art."

"It’s really a folk art in every culture," Goldenberg stresses.
"In Jewish culture, it’s usually Mizrah and Shivit, decorations for
holidays."

Continuing the holiday theme, Ruth Roberts, docent for the
Hebrew Union College Skirball Museum, contributed cards she makes
commemorating Jewish holidays. "I don’t sell," Roberts says. "I
give them to people who appreciate it."

Her numerous cards, each celebrating holidays like Rosh Hashanah
and Yom Kippur, convey images of creation and finality. In her "Yom
Kippur Seal," her minimalist take on the ending of atonement makes
it a powerful piece. "I wanted to give up the finality of
atonement," Roberts says.

The dark red seal, so reminiscent of blood, encloses an envelope
like the ending of an event, a time, a life. Still, at the center,
closely a viewer can see an almost freeing and hopeful vision of a
bird’s flight. Roberts had originally considered a gold or silver
seal but a majestic-holy feel wasn’t the effect she wanted. She
wanted something a little more antique and found that in touring
historical Virginia. Finding the old sealing wax, used in colonial
times, reminded her of the antiquity of her card. The wax was also
"the only one that held up to mailing," she reasons.

Her other cards explore Creation and honor the New Year, such as
Selichot. "It’s the beginning of prayers and preparations for the
holidays, ones of adoration, thanksgiving and repentance."

More photographs depicting bicoastal celebrations line the wall
of Kerckhoff. Using both people and food, Bill Aron’s photographs
remind the viewer of family, tradition and primal sensuality. Paul
Vogler’s traditional "Shofar" uses the image to awaken people to
their responsibilities.

Miriam Krombach’s earthenware illustrates the family and
simplicity of the holidays and Carrie Ungerman uses the symbolism
of the pomegranate to portray fertility. While most of the pieces
have more subtle symbolism, the materials on loan from the Gallery
Judaica establish more concrete symbols.

However, the works in the gallery from both UCLA artists and the
outside community tie together the symbols so predominant in Judaic
tradition and culture.

ART EXHIBIT: "What Jews Do in September:
Accounting and Atoning" presented by Cultural Affairs Commission.
Reception tonight, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Kerckhoff Art
Gallery. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more info., call
(310) 825-6564.

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