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Voices of Wisdom in the new Ground Level Arts Lab

Voices of Wisdom in the new Ground Level Arts Lab

Sunday, September 25, 2016 - 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Ground Level Arts Lab Opening

This event marked the opening of the Ground Level Arts Lab, a new 1,600-square-foot programmatic space for Jewish art, artists, and the community.

Located on the ground floor of Spertus Institute, the Ground Level Arts Lab features a semi-permanent display of art and artifacts from Spertus Institute’s impressive collections, putting works from the Spertus collections on regular view for both researchers and members of the public. Approximately 50 works are on display, ranging from a rare seventeenth-century jeweled Torah shield to the cornerstone of the Chicago Hebrew Institute, the forerunner of today’s JCCs. These treasures are shown alongside contemporary photography of Jewish life in Chicago, from traditional observances to Jewish hip-hop concerts.

The Ground Level Arts Lab will also house flexible space for small changing exhibits. The first of these, titled Voices of Wisdom, presents new works by Chicago-area Jewish artists.

Voices of Wisdom
New Work from the Midwest Jewish Artists Lab

Voices of Wisdom showcases new works created in conjunction with the Midwest Jewish Artists Lab, an initiative through which Spertus brought together twelve distinguished artists for conversation, critiques, and community-building.

The artists were provided opportunities to study art from the Spertus collections, as well as learn from historians, art scholars, and experts in a range of related fields. During the course of the year-long program, each participant was charged with creating an artwork or series around the theme of wisdom.

At the exhibit opening, art critic and professor James Yood led a lively panel discussion featuring several participating artists.

James YoodJames Yood teaches contemporary art history and criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he is an Associate Professor and Director of the New Arts Journalism program and an affiliated faculty member in the Department of Art History, Theory and Criticism. Active as an art critic and essayist on contemporary art, he has been the Chicago correspondent to Artforum and writes regularly for a range of other publications includingVisual Art Source and Aperture. Educated at the University of Wisconsin and at the University of Chicago, he has lectured widely on issues in modern art. He serves as a writer and consultant to Encyclopedia Britannica in modern and contemporary art and has been a regular correspondent to WBEZ National Public Radio in Chicago.

Main Image

Under the Sun (detail), 2016, Ellen Holtzbatt.

Participating Artists 2016

Sylvia Alotta of Berwyn
Gabriella Boros of Skokie
Melanie Dankowicz of Champaign
Susan Dickman of Evanston
Berit Engen of Oak Park 
Jonathan Franklin of Oak Park
Ellen Holtzblatt of Chicago
Judith Joseph of Northbrook
Stephen Levin of Riverwoods
Carol Neiger of Glenview
Dimitri Pavlotsky of Chicago
Amy Reichert of Evanston

See a preview of artworks
featured in this exhibition.
View Gallery

Dimitri Pavlotsky at work

Artist Dimitri Pavlotsky has been filming himself at work, adding a performance element to his artistic practice. In this short video, he is painting a piece titled Kiddush.



The Midwest Jewish Artists Lab is generously supported by a grant from the Covenant Foundation.