Some artists work alone, some create in collaboration with others. What we have in common is our need to express ourselves through our art. We are also social beings—seeking connection with kindred spirits and seeking to share our work with others.
The members of the Jewish Peoplehood Committee of the Boston-Haifa Connection invited eight artists from Boston and eight artists from Haifa to participate in a monthly two-hour Zoom session from April through August 2021. The purpose was to meet, introduce our work and our personal artistic goals to each other, and to continue to build bridges between the two cities. Zoom has the advantage that we could see each other safely in the time of COVID—even people in our own city. Fortunately, our Haifa participants spoke English well enough to understand the Bostonians, even though some of us in Boston do speak or at least understand Hebrew. In an unexpected turn-around, a few of the Boston artists are Israelis, while some of the Israelis are former Bostonians! In between meetings, we communicated on WhatsApp—sharing our websites, new art we created and notifying each other of exhibitions and public art events. (An added gift was our facilitator, Adi, giving birth during the month of June without missing a single session!)
The Boston-Haifa Connection artists’ dialogue was composed of very talented artists working in a variety of media. As a fine art photographer, I was delighted to become acquainted with the art of an Israeli photographer who works in black and white. Via video, we saw two Israeli women participants—each in her own group—performing dances they had choreographed. We met an actress who appears on Israeli TV in everything from plays to improv to ads. We watched videos of our two composers playing their own compositions. We met a graffiti artist, a fabric designer/weaver, painters, mosaicists and artists working in 3D and collage. I discovered that many of the artists from both countries are also teachers in schools and in their studios. It was clear they enjoy working with students of all ages.
What I gained was 17 new friends (with warm invitations to visit Haifa and local Boston studios) and an introduction to other outstanding Israeli artists who shared their work with us at our monthly Zoom gatherings. We also met with Bernie Pucker and heard about the Israeli-American origins of the Pucker Gallery on Newbury Street.
A few days before our final Zoom session in August, I found myself sitting at Café Landwer on Beacon Street with another dialogue group member, Moshe Elmakias, a talented Israeli composer young enough to be my grandson. He had just graduated from the New England Conservatory and was planning to try out the music scene in New York. When we talked about making art and how we each go about “composing,” we realized there might be an opportunity in the future for collaboration using his music and my abstract visual art.
I definitely feel enriched by the Boston-Haifa artist dialogue experience, and stay tuned—artists in our group from both cities are planning to work together on a project in the coming year.
Leah Broyde Abrahams is a fine art photographer and owner of Mixed Media Memoirs, creating legacy memoir books as ghost writer or editor for families around the country.