nigun (melody) is a wordless, often spiritual song or prayer, sung by Jewish communities in synagogue, around the Shabbat dinner table and in other communal gatherings. Characterized by repetitive sounds such as “bim bim bam” or “nai nai nai,” nigunim range in emotion, tradition, composition and purpose. Nigunim typically have repetitive melodies, lack words and involve community participation through harmonies. “Nigun | Notations on Prayer” brings together works by seven Jewish artists that visually respond to nigun through process, repetition, motif and abstraction.

The exhibition features Natalya Bernstein, Rachel Bird, Alex DeRosa, Shelby Feltoon, Stacy Friedman, Joshua Lennon and Emily Mogavero. Each artist investigates how to illustrate and connect oral tradition and visual representation. Motifs such as repeated figures alluding to community and lineage and abstract pattern through incessantly repeated processes and actions emerge. Each artist’s searching and visual thinking is evident as they attempt to create a physical prayer.

About the Artists

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Natalya Bernstein’s oil paintings piece together personal, historical and biblical references by layering figurative painting and repeated marks.

Rachel Bird’s site-specific installation “Paper Dolls” consists of dozens of monotype nude female figures printed on translucent paper and hung in layers on the gallery wall. The piece acclaims the nigun, “the soft and wordless repeating melody,” within each individual body that helped the artist journey from injury to recovery.

To create “Medical Signifiers” Alex DeRosa digitally alters, repeats, overlaps and prints her diagnosis, further jumbling and abstracting the medical jargon that has become part of her daily life. These square, black-and-white prints become a lamentation on illness.

Shelby Feltoon layers personal and familiar photographs in her cyanotype series “Retrieval” to create a glimpse of collective memory and offer the viewer the chance to float in cyan circles and squares.

Stacy Friedman uses monotype techniques drawn from family photographs to investigate lineage, memory, Jewish identity and community. The silhouetted figures form rich tonal layers building up layers of history.

Joshua Lennon’s site-responsive sculptures invite the viewer to consider materiality and process.

Emily Mogavero presents a selection of her extended series “Aufheben,” made from reprinting the same drypoint plate again and again. She reduces each print to a small sliver in order to enhance the rhythmic reputation that parallels her printing ad nauseam. Emily is also the curator and organizer of this exhibit.

Gallery Hours

The exhibition is open from Nov. 15 to Dec. 9 with gallery hours on Thursdays from 4-6 p.m. and Sundays from 12-4 p.m. and by appointment. Please note: There are no gallery hours on Nov. 22 or Dec. 9. Hours are subject to change.

Community Programs

Nov. 15, 6-9 p.m.: Exhibition opening and reception
Dec. 1: Young adult Havdalah in partnership with Moishe House
TBD: Rosh Chodesh Tevet women’s gathering date
Dec. 9, 3-6:30 p.m.: Closing reception, Hanukkah candle-lighting and Pharos Quartet concert

To host a community program, schedule a gallery viewing or to request more information, please contact Emily Mogavero at nigun.exhibition@gmail.com or 781-686-4599.

Generously supported by the Hotel Buckminster, Golob Art, Combined Jewish Philanthropies and Moishe House. A portion of all sales will go to HIAS.

About the Gallery

Located in Kenmore Square in collaboration with Hotel Buckminster, Post-Cubicle Gallery is a space organized by local artists Alexander Golob, Edie Côté and Danielle Pratt.

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