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STUDIO STORIES 2020

STUDIO STORIES 2020 is a collection of short interviews with artists who have been making contemporary work during the Covid 19 pandemic. It introduces readers to the ways in which artists continue to create and adapt their practice today.
curated BY Lilach Schrag

ABOUT STUDIO STORIES 2020 - As the global health pandemic changed artists' lives and practice, Chicago-based artist Lilach Schrag found herself drawn to stories of how artists were adapting to lockdown and the new reality. The result is Lilach's curated presentation "Studio Stories 2020", hosted by Kol HaOt. "When I realized it would be impossible to have my scheduled June residency at Kol HaOt's gallery in Jerusalem, I reached out instead to colleagues and friends around the world who make contemporary art and started collecting their stories. I asked them to provide a glimpse into their mission, their methods, and their hearts. They spoke about their work, altered daily routines, challenging moments, uplifting realizations, and the ways in which they continue to create and adjust their practice during the pandemic. Individually, from their homes and their studios, they tell fascinating stories with thoughtful words and beautiful artwork. Collectively, they offer a snapshot of artists responding to the unprecedented reality of our time.” – Lilach Schrag, 2020

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David moss

DAVID MOSS IS A JERUSALEM ARTIST WHO DEFINES HIMSELF AS AN ILLUSTRAOR, ANIMATOR, AND TRANSFORMER OF JEWISH TEXTS, OBJECTS, SPACES, AND SOULS. HE IS MOST KNOWN FOR THE MOSS HAGGADAH, A HAND-WRITTEN AND ILLUMINTED MANUSCRIPT, WHICH HE CREATED IN 1983. DAVID IS THE CO-FOUNDER OF KOL HAOT, WHICH FOSTERS JEWISH VALUES THROUGH THE ARTS.

I seek to draw forth a smile of delight, elicit the surprise of creativity, ignite the light of enlightenment, trigger the sensation of wonder, and open the heart of understanding.

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FOR THE FIRST COUPLE WEEKS OF SOCIAL DISTANCING, I BROUGHT HOME SUPPLIES AND MATERIALS AND SET UP A MINI-STUDIO IN A SMALL ROOM UPSTAIRS. I ENJOYED THE CHANGE OF SCENERY AND THE CHALLENGE OF THE CRAMPED QUARTERS.
I SOUGHT A WAY TO CONNECT CLOSELY WITH MY FAMILY, TO MAGICALLY OBLITERATE DISTANCE. IF I COULD NOT EMBRACE IN PERSON, AT LEAST I COULD USE MY HEART AND MY ART TO EMBRACE THEM WITH THE BINDING FORCE OF THE DEEP HUMAN CONNECTOR—GIFTS.

on left: From Middot Portfolio

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I DECIDED TO USE THIS SPECIAL TIME TO BEGIN A VERY LIMITED EDITION SERIES OF 15 SMALL ORIGINAL PAINTINGS. MY SELF-CHOSEN ASSIGNMENT WAS TO CREATE A WORK FOR EACH OF OUR GRANDCHILDREN - 15 IN ALL, USING ROUGHLY THE SAME FORMAT.
I HAD RECENTLY PURCHASED A SET OF ACRYLIC GOUACHE PAINTS THAT CAME IN A SMALL, EASILY TRANSPORTABLE BOX, SO I DECIDED TO USE THEM EXCLUSIVELY AND LOVED THE WAY THEY WENT ON THE PAPER.
I BASED EACH PAINTING ON A CHILD'S HEBREW NAME. THE PIECES VARIED AT LEAST AS MUCH AS EACH CHILD VARIES.
SOME WERE BASED ON THE MEANING OF THE NAME; SOME ON AN INTEREST OF THE CHILD; SOME JUST ON MY INTUITIVE RESPONSES OF MEDITATING ON THE PERSONALITY OF THAT GRANDCHILD, AND THE PIECE I MADE FOR OUR MARRIED GRANDDAUGHTER CONTAINS BOTH HER NAME AND HER HUSBAND’S NAME.
THE GOAL OF THE PROJECT WAS TO PRODUCE A LITTLE GIFT FOR EACH OF THEM AND THESE THEY WERE DELIGHTED TO RECEIVE.
BUT AS I WORKED, THE SURPRISING OUTCOME FOR ME WAS THE DELIGHT OF IMMERSING MYSELF DEEPLY INTO AN EXTENDED PSYCHIC STATE OF FOCUSED LOVE, ATTENTION, DEVOTION, AND CONNECTION WITH EACH OF THESE PRECIOUS SOULS.
15 grandchildren

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THIS PERIOD WAS ONE OF REFLECTION FOR ME. WITH THE PERSPECTIVE OF AGE AND INTIMATIONS OF DEADLY CONTAGION LURKING ABOUT, I LOOKED BACK AT THE SPAN OF MY LIFE. THE MAIN FEELING WAS ONE OF UTTER AMAZEMENT: MY FAMILY, MY FRIENDS, MY CAREER, MY ART, MY EXPERIENCES HAVE BEEN NOTHING LESS THAN MIRACULOUS.

Mizrach Print (detail)

I WAS PARTICULARLY STRUCK BY THE LAST VERSE OF PSALM 23: “ONLY GOODNESS AND KINDNESS SHALL FOLLOW ME ALL THE DAYS OF MY LIFE.”

on left: psalm 24 artist book

Structured Freedom tzitzit

THE WORD THAT STRUCK ME DEEPLY AND PERSONALLY WAS ‘YIRDEFUNI’ ‘SHALL FOLLOW ME.’ GOODNESS HUNTED ME DOWN. KINDNESS PURSUED ME. THEY OVERWHELMED ME IN THEIR PLENTITUDE AND GRACE.

on left: psalm 24 artist book

I’VE LEARNED THAT BLESSINGS LIKE THESE HUNT YOU DOWN FOR A REASON. THESE ARE GIFTS - UNSOLICITED, UNEARNED, AND UNDESERVED RICH REMARKABLE EXPERIENCES.

THESE GIFTS CHASE ME FOR A SINGLE REASON. AND THAT REASON IS TO PASS THEM ALONG FOR THE BENEFIT OF OTHERS

AND SO I CHOSE TO USE THE CORONA RECESS TO SHARE THE GIFTS.

on right: from OMG Bentcher

ONE OF THE CULMINATIONS OF PASSING ON OF GIFTS WAS THE DEEPLY MOVING COLLOQUIUM OF THE TEACHER INSTITUTE FOR THE ARTS THAT I DIRECT, WHERE WE HELPED OUR MENTORS AND TEACHERS INSTANTANEOUSLY TRANSFORM THEIR CLASSES FROM SCHOOL TO HOME.

Siman Tov set

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Patterned Prayer print

ACKNOWLEDGING THE CURRENT TURMOIL, SHOCK, AND PAIN THAT HAS BEEN CONVULSING THE WORLD, I THOUGHT OF ONE OF MY FAVORITE TIMELY QUOTES.

IT IS THE PROPHETIC VISION OF PSALM 85: "KINDNESS AND TRUTH MEET, JUSTICE AND PEACE KISS. TRUTH BLOSSOMS FORTH FROM THE EARTH; AS JUSTICE IS REFLECTED FROM THE HEAVENS."

on right: Forces of Nature (psalm 185)

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From left: Cycling thru My Mind; Painted Pottery; Mobile at UCLA Hillel, Omer Counter; Kafitz Ketubah
Created By
Lilach Schrag
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All images are courtesy of the artist