Sunday, November 29, 2020

Geography inspires Israeli Artists

Thirty-six contemporary artists make up “Visions of Place: Complex Geographies in Contemporary Israeli Art,” individually selected after extensive research and several trips to Israel by the exhibit’s co-curators Martin Rosenberg and Suan Isaacs.

“Geography, conceived in this broad contemporary sense, in an inescapable part of Israeli life, its psyche and it’s art,” Rosenberg said.

The fifth site for the exhibit, they were able to bring the exhibit to SUNY Plattsburgh through International Art and Artists, a nonprofit arts service organization that tours international exhibits to museums.

“I think that as an institution that values liberal arts education it’s really important to bring a variety of art exhibits to campus,” Tonya Cribb, the SUNY Plattsburgh museum director, said. “These are very established artists so they aren’t new. They’ve been making art a long time, and through their works you’ll see a lot of different perspectives.”

The exhibit has pieces that are considered to be left, middle, and right sides of the political spectrum.

“The artists are an extremely diverse group of male and female contemporary artists, all Israeli citizens, who come from a variety of different places and backgrounds,” Rosenberg said.  “Like the population of Israel, the majority of the artists are Jewish, but from many different geographical, ethnic and religious backgrounds, but there are also Arab-Muslim, Arab-Christian and a Druze artists.”

Half of the artists are women.

“I was really interested because we don’t have too many exhibitions about different cultures like this,” Erin Doescher, a senior art major and the SA art acquisition board’s vice president for the arts said. “(This gallery) is a good way to learn. You can come here and learn about this area, this religion, this style of art, without having to listen to anyone or read anything, which is really incredible and the beauty of all this.”

Doescher said the exhibit is also a great way for art students to see what other artists are doing with photography, sculpture, painting and print. All of which are fields of study offered at Plattsburgh State.

“Our ultimate hope is that the exhibition will engage each viewer at SUNY Plattsburgh in powerful and personal ways, and expand their knowledge and conceptions of Israel, the world, and themselves, through the power of art,” Rosenberg said.

He and Isaacs hope to encourage an open dialogue around the issues explored in these works.

“Many in the United States know relatively little about Israel beyond what they read in the media,” Rosenberg said. “At a time when there is so much divisiveness in the world, art can reveal surprising commonalities across apparent differences. One of the most compelling and significant aspects of the exhibition is the way in which so many of the works provides a deeper understanding of an individual’s perspective, but also many exhibit a sense of empathy on the part of the artist for those who seem, at least superficially, different than one’s self.”

One of the larger photos on display shows the city of Jerusalem, with a bright purple hue in the top left corner that spreads down across the photo.

“I really enjoy this photo because it talks about the troubled area of Jerusalem,” Doescher said, gesturing to the description fastened to the wall next to the photo. “But the artist was able to put this kind of glow or haze on it that made it not feel so conquered and contentious. I think it’s the scale of it too. There’s something about large photos like this that engulf you and make you look a little deeper.”

The exhibit will be on display in the Burke Gallery on the second floor of the Myers Fine Arts Building until Dec. 3. It is free and open to the public.

“Today, we all live in an interconnected world,” Rosenberg said, “and we all need to understand that world in all its complexities.”

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