Two Boston-area artists—a photographer and a musician—are the first-ever recipients of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) and Jewish Arts Collaborative (JArts) Community Creative Fellowship.
Yonatan (Yoni) Battat, a Newton resident, violist, oud and voice musician and composer, and Adriana Katzew, a photographer and MassArt professor who lives in Jamaica Plain, will serve as fellows for seven months and receive $20,000 each to pursue projects related to Jewish identity and how it intersects with their communities and themselves.
CJP and JArts developed and launched the fellowship to support Boston-area creatives as they explore Jewish identity through art and culture. Creative workers in all artistic media—visual artists, musicians, performers, writers, chefs, coders and others—were invited to apply. The three-month process of selecting the applicants concluded in early November and included nearly 50 applicants.
CJP and JArts have been partnering to support and expand the place of vibrant Jewish arts and culture in Greater Boston. CJP has made arts and culture an important focus of its multi-faceted community work.
“Arts and culture can profoundly connect us to Jewishness and to one another,” said Sophie Krentzman, CJP’s director of arts and culture. “They bring us into deep and challenging conversations, and illuminate and preserve Jewish experience and memory. JArts has been an outstanding catalyst for the creation of new Jewish art, as well as for the presentation of the art and culture of our past. In five short years, they have made an indelible mark on the Boston arts community, and they are the perfect partners to work with on this unique and meaningful project.”
Katzew said the fellowship will allow her to “explore how my Jewish and Latina identities intersect to create a liminal space—a fluid, malleable space where new customs, rituals and ways of being are established. To better explore these concepts of my identity, I will also look at my maternal grandparents’ experiences as Jewish and Mexican based on their own migration story to Mexico.”
For Battat, the fellowship will allow him to “expand the bubble” of musicians and people he typically interacts with, allowing him to focus on Middle Eastern music, music for prayer services and other innovative approaches to broadening his musical experience.
“With the resources and support from the fellowship, I can work with people of different ages, denominations, backgrounds, races and religions,” he said. “As an artist, I rely on my lived experiences and the people I meet as inspiration for my creative output. By entering into dialogue with voices that are different from mine, I will grow as an artist and my final capstone project will reflect the rich bridges I will have built with my newly expanded and enriched community in Boston.”
Laura Mandel, executive director of JArts, said the fellowship, and the partnership with CJP, demonstrates the Boston Jewish community’s commitment to the arts through innovative programming and support for artists.
“This is an exciting new program that, in the coming months, will give Yoni and Adriana a chance not only to explore aspects of their art and identity, but to share it with the rest of us,” Mandel said. “To give them the resources to do that is a model of how organizations like CJP and JArts can not only support the arts and artists, but push them forward into exciting new territory. We can’t wait to see what comes next from Yoni and Adriana.”
Both artists will spend several months on their projects and will have opportunities to share their work with the community.