The Medium Is the Matzo: An Interactive Passover Installation

Artist Melissa Shiff is hard at work building her interactive Passover installation in time for the holidays. The work, called The Medium Is the Matzo, will feature a house made up entirely of matzo (unleavened bread), along with “Crush Oppression” cushions, and a video projection of Cecil B. DeMille’s famous movie The Ten Commandments. Shiff has also constructed what she dubs the “Miriam Bar”, in honor of Moses’ sister. Continue reading

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Art by Sarah Lazarovic

Tablet, the online Jewish culture magazine, has shared a story with us about artist Sarah Lazarovic.

Lazarovic was one of the graphic novelists who exhibited at the Graphic Details show in Toronto. She has just posted a short comic series on reinventing Purim noisemakers.

For some timely holiday humor, check out her colorful illustrations:

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Insights Into the Lives of Jewish Women

Comic Book Memoirs at the Graphic Details Show

“I don’t belong IN Israel as much as I belong TO Israel.” So reads the wall text in one of the Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women exhibition rooms. The quote is from artist Miriam Libicki’s comic book series Jobnik! (Real Gone Girl Studios, 2008), one of the many graphic memoirs featured in the international exhibition co-curated by Michael Kaminer and Sarah Lightman.

Nearly all of the exhibited works are original drawings and sketches. Many have never been displayed in public before. Continue reading

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Marcelle Murdock’s Provocative Portraits

Up-and-coming talent Marcelle Murdock paints portraits of taboo issues in contemporary society. From realistic depictions of homosexuality, to provocative images of erotic fetishism, Murdock is keen on challenging people’s preconceptions. Her colorful representations of subculture lend her a rebellious streak that she is proud to flaunt.

Murdock met with us to discuss her vision of contemporary art, and what inspires her to continue her creative pursuits.

VAN (Vista Art Network): Your paintings have a very particular color palette. Is there a relationship between this and other aspects of your work?

Marcelle Murdock: I usually just choose colors that I find go well together. Recently, though, all my paintings have been [limited] to three or four colors. I like sticking to the three colors because I find they make things stick out more.

Can you tell us a little more in-depth about your creative process? How do you typically make each painting?

When I was younger, I used to use other [people’s] images to work from, but now that I’m starting to sell and expose my work, I want to make sure that it’s 100% authentic. Continue reading

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Art & the City II: A Vernissage Showcasing Jewish Art

On January 23rd, 2011, the Bronfman Israel Experience Center presented an exhibition of emerging Jewish visual artists at Koko Bar.

Art lovers from all over the city braved the cold weather to visit and support young artists. The showroom was bustling!

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Here Today, Gone Tomorrow?

Dwindling communities and The Hidden Faith Project

Documentary filmmakers David Adelman, Paul Shore, and Nick Timmins have embarked on a journey. The mission: to visit the smallest Jewish communities in the world and broadcast their stories to a North American audience. So far, the trio has traveled to the Dominican Republic to document the remaining 200 Jews who still live in Sosua and Santo Domingo (remnants of a migration that took place in WWII).

The resulting film will be presented in March of 2011 across Montreal. By focusing their cameras on faraway cultures, the Project asks important questions that affect local Jews: Why are many Jewish youth disconnected from their cultural heritage? How can we enrich our North American communities? Ultimately, The Hidden Faith Project is a reflection on how we negotiate our cultural, religious, and spiritual identities on a daily basis.

VAN (Vista Art Network): What is The Hidden Faith Project about? Tell us about the Project’s beginnings.

Paul Shore: There are about 200 Jews in the Dominican Republic. The story was so inspiring that when we came home and started cutting the film we started to explore. How can we engage the next generation of Jews, who are secular like ourselves, in Jewish culture and identity through culturally relevant tools like video and new media? You might not want to go to synagogue, but you still want to explore your Jewish identity. So, we thought: we can create a program that goes to these places that North Americans know nothing about, whether it’s in Surinam, Kenya, Ghana, or Curacao. We’re focusing on communities of fewer than 200 people.

Would you say that the use of new media and documentary film was a key component of the Project?

David Adelman: There’s something about film that allows you to capture everything. There’s a lot of stuff about film that writing can’t do. Continue reading

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Finding Beauty in Simple Things


Against an indistinct urban backdrop, a bearded man looks out toward us with a piercing and intent gaze. The deep lines and shadows etched across his face trace the portrait of a rough, weather-battered life. The black-and-white photograph, titled Poverty, is one of the many captivating images shot by emerging artist Jacques Balayla.

Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, Balayla and his family packed up and landed in Montreal in 2002. Continue reading

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