Avoda: exhibit by artist Tobi Kahn at HUC-JIR/LA

Monday, August 1, 2005

Los Angeles, August 15, 2005 - The Los Angeles campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is home to an exhibition of Jewish ceremonial objects by New York artist Tobi Kahn, entitled AVODA: Objects of the Spirit, which is on view through August 30, 2005. Tobi Kahn will be on hand for a reception and gallery talk for board members, community leaders, faculty and community members on Monday, August 22 at 6:30 pm. Kahn's visit will begin on Sunday, August 21 and include three days of educational programs designed for members of the community, including participation in a special program on opening day of HUC-JIR classes, lectures to HUC-JIR rabbinical , education, and Jewish Communal Service students, and a workshop with Los Angeles Jewish educators, sponsored in cooperation with the Bureau of Jewish Education, focusing on how to incorporate the arts into curriculum. 

AVODA: Objects of the Spirit features ceremonial objects fashioned by Kahn in his signature style - organic, earthly, and totally committed to natural form. Several of Mr. Kahn's paintings and works on paper are also featured in the exhibition . 

For the past 20 years, Kahn has been making ceremonial objects that reveal an unusual intimacy between artistic and religious traditions. Many of the objects in the exhibition were made for his own family's festivities-his wedding canopy, a Seder plate, spice boxes, hand-washing sets, special chairs for his daughters' naming ceremonies-in order to interpret a time-honored tradition for our day. 

Kahn's work has been shown in more than 40 solo exhibitions and 60 museum and group shows since he was selected as one of nine artists to be included in the 1985 Guggenheim Museum exhibition, New Horizons in American Art. Kahn's paintings and sculptures have been the subject of an extensive bibliography in art magazines, catalogues, and newspapers since the early 1980s. 

The artist, himself an observant Jew, says of the works in this exhibit, "Although Judaism has emphasized words, language, and commentary, I have found the visual elements of the tradition equally illuminating. For me, the life of the spirit is integrally bound up with the beauty of the world, with the rituals and symbols that are a Jewish medium to transcendence. Like language, what we see can be a benediction." 

AVODA: Objects of the Spirit is a traveling exhibition curated by Laura Kruger, Museum Director at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, and organized by The Avoda Institute. Related educational programming is made possible by funding from The Covenant Foundation. 

For more detailed information about exhibition hours open to the public, please contact Francine Lis at 213 765-2105 or e-mail flis@huc.edu, or to schedule an interview with the artist, please call Aviva Garbowit at 212-624-9238 or email agarbowit@avodaarts.org

The Avoda Institute, including its programming division, Avoda Arts, is a cultural and educational organization that offers participants a joyful understanding of Judaism through the arts. With innovative exhibitions, hands-on workshops, seminars for educators, and university courses, Avoda encourages people to experience for themselves the power of art, ritual and community. Proceeds from Objects of the Spirit support the work of the Avoda Institute, Ltd., a 501(c)(3) organization.


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu