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Midwest Jewish Artists Lab_12 Artists Selected from Chicago Area

Midwest Jewish Artists Lab_12 Artists Selected from Chicago Area

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — September 3, 2015

For more information contact:

Joanna Rothenberg | 312.322.1724

Betsy Gomberg | 312.322.1756


Twelve artists selected from the greater Chicago area to participate.
An exhibit of their work will be mounted in 2016 at
Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership.

(Chicago) Twelve Chicago-area artists have been selected to participate in the Midwest Jewish Artists Lab, an innovative project designed to forge collaborations, inspire new work, and broaden the impact of the arts in Jewish life. The Chicago chapter begins this fall at Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership, where, according to Spertus Provost and Vice President Dr. Dean Bell, “Jewish arts and cultural expression are considered key components of Jewish learning, community building, identity, and spirituality.” The Midwest Jewish Artists Lab is generously supported by a grant from the Covenant Foundation.

Of the program, Spertus Curator of Collections Ilana Segal said, "Spertus Institute has an important history of supporting local Jewish artists. The Midwest Jewish Artists Lab represents an exciting development in this tradition, one that will serve as the next step in our work to foster a flourishing community of Jewish artists in Chicago."

Of the artists selected, she continue, "I'm thrilled that we have identified such an impressive and diverse group of artists. While some have experience incorporating Jewish themes in their work, many will be exploring the relationship between their identities as artists and Jews for the first time. What connects them all is a sincere desire to grow as artists and people, as well as an interest in forming meaningful connections with one another.”

The artists selected are 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, and Amy Reichert of Evanston.

They work in media ranging from egg tempera to tapestry, with a number of painters, several metalworkers, a book and paper artists, and a photographer. They have exhibited in just about every conceivable venue in the Chicago area and as well as international settings from the Stockholm Jewish Community Center to the Jerusalem Biennale.

For the participating artists, the project will provide a community of creativity, support, and enrichment. Monthly meetings — facilitated by Spertus Institute faculty and outside experts — will feature discussions of topics and themes relating to Jewish art and occasions for critical evaluation of participants' work. Art and artifacts from Spertus Institute's world-class collection will provide examples for background study and inspiration. An exhibit of participants' work will be presented at Spertus Institute in 2016.

The Midwest Jewish Artist Lab was initially piloted at three locations: the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center in Milwaukee, the University of Wisconsin Hillel in Madison, and the Sabes Jewish Community Center in Minneapolis. Spertus Institute in Chicago is part of an expansion that also includes the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City.

A central theme for 2015/2016 will be selected by representatives of the five participating communities at a conference in Milwaukee this October. Past themes have included Wandering, Light, Text/Context/Subtext, and Water.

Spertus Institute will be accepting applications for the 2016/2017 Chicago cohort of the Midwest Artist Lab starting next summer. More information can be found at

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The Covenant Foundation recognizes the diversity of strengths in Jewish education in North America, across all denominations and settings. By honoring outstanding Jewish educators and supporting creative approaches to programming, the Foundation works to strengthen educational endeavors that perpetuate the identity, continuity and heritage of the Jewish people.

Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership offers dynamic learning opportunities, rooted in Jewish wisdom and culture and open to all. Graduate programs and workshops train future leaders and engage individuals in exploration of Jewish life. Public programs — including films, speakers, seminars, exhibits, and concerts — take place at the Institute's Michigan Avenue facility, in the Chicago suburbs, and online.

Spertus Institute is a partner with the Jewish United Fund in serving our community. Exhibits at Spertus Institute are supported in part by the Harry and Sadie Lasky Foundation.

“HaveHave Let You See It With Your Own Eyes, by participating artist Ellen Holtzblatt, oil on wood panel, 48 x 34 inches, © 2014.

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Glass Half FullGlass Half Full, by participating artist Judith Joseph, egg tempera and gold leaf on panel, 16 x 20 inches, © 2014.

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