A Search for Congruity
Thursday nights, 6:15pm - 7:45pm
Can Jewish spirituality be understood as a form of art? Can art be a spiritual process? We’re going to delve into some of the themes that occupy modern art production and consumption, in particular - the presence or absence of the author, the possibility of creations going out of control, the tension between discipline and creative spontaneity, and the relationship between darkness and light. Always thought your identity as an art-maker or art-doer was separate from your Jewish identity? Let’s imagine a new intersection between Judaism and art. No prior experience in art production necessary, though personal experience is welcome.
Week 1 - Orientation; The First Creator September 15
Creation involves giving life to something independent of the creator. What happens when this new entity takes on a life of its own? What happens when creations are misunderstood or misappropriated? What happens when a work of art, a creation, disappoints its creator?
Week 2 - How Big is Your Story? September 22
In what way does personal history become collective history? Can the past, or larger narratives, “make a claim” on us? What is your story?
Week 3 - The Sabbath September 29
The Sabbath, as a time of rest, is inherently counter-cultural. We will explore two different ways that we might interact with the Sabbath and consider together the relationship between the Sabbath and creative acts. At the end of this week, we will spend Shabbat together as a community!
Week 4 - Why Create? October 6
What is the role and responsibility of the artist in the world? To whom is she accountable? Have you ever felt called to do something, or to create something?
Week 5 - To Sin Against the Medium: Sages and Artists in Rebellion October 13
Sometimes an artist must break the boundaries of their preferred mode of production. She must sin, as it were, against the very medium she works in. Can this be done in religious life? In what ways do we sometimes sin for the sake of the greater medium we are working in?
Week 6 - Discipline and Inspiration October 20
Is art production a function of being inspired or honing a craft? In what way does inspiration serve as a hindrance to art making? Is inspiration necessary?
Week 7 - Solitude and Collaboration October 27
Some of the greatest works from the 20th century are the products of artistic collaboration (Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Walt Disney and Salvador Dali). What might famous collaborative partnerships in Jewish tradition and contemporary art tradition teach us about this special relationship? Conversely, what is best achieved in solitude?
Week 8 - Inner Struggle November 3
One of the great themes of modern art is the attempt of the artist to “find herself.” The artist struggles with inner psychic demons, past experiences, or neuroses to arrive at a sense of self as a person, as an artist. What might contemporary art and Jewish tradition teach us about the process of self-actualization?
Week 9 - On Giving and Receive Feedback November 10
Often an artist must open herself to critique. Similarly, the artist may use her art as a form of critique. We will consider some models for the critical process in Jewish tradition and in modern art production.
Week 10 - Infrequently Asked Questions, Saying Goodbye November 17
In this final session we compile all the questions we never felt comfortable enough to ask and try responding to a few of them. We draw from the texts we have studied and the ideas we have explored to offer mature, thoughtful responses to our own questions.