Artists' Reception for "Culture Lab // Margin" Exhibition

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Artists Reception: Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Jack H. Skirball Campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Los Angeles is hosting an artists’ reception on Thursday, April 30, 2015, for its newest interactive installation, “Culture Lab // Margin.” Organized in collaboration with the Silverlake Independent Jewish Community Center (SIJCC) and Jewish Wisdom & Wellness: A Festival of Learning and produced by Anne Hromadka, the installation features the work of 5 Jewish artists: Josh Friedman, a sculptor with an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art; Rebecca Pappas, a dancer, choreographer, and Adjunct Professor of Dance at Pasadena City College; Eli Rarey, a filmmaker and storyteller focused on issues of gender, sexuality, and identity; Kristen Smiarowski, a choreographer who holds an MFA in dance from UCLA; and Joanne Tolkoff, an artist, graphic designer, videographer, and producer.

Culture Lab is an interdisciplinary arts program designed to foster new work and provoke a community-wide conversation about arts and culture that is grounded in Jewish tradition. Each lab brings together participants with varied backgrounds and at different phases of their careers, providing a rare opportunity for participants to work with colleagues who are both emerging and established. A Jewish scholar contributes to the collaborative process, providing a Jewish lens with which to explore topics and themes. Each four-month Lab concludes with a high-profile public showing of the work, presented by the SIJCC, engaging the Los Angeles Jewish and arts communities.
This lab was the third of six cycles that took place over two years. Culture Lab // Margin originally premiered their work in an interactive art installation and performance piece on Saturday, September 13, 2014 at The Brewery. This initial event explored margins and journeys from both a spiritual and personal level. It included a site-specific mural, direct audience engagement, a sculptural bridge, and performance. It was created by a group of five artists working in various disciplines, including dance, storytelling, fine art, and sculpture. The piece engages the concept of the margin, and how it has shaped Jewish identity and experience.
HUC-JIR, Jewish Wisdom & Wellness: A Festival of Learning and the SIJCC are pleased to present the second iteration of Culture Lab // Margin. This installation has been reconfigured to fit our unique campus community. It includes documentary images and objects from the initial premier. Similar to the first iteration, this version of the exhibition incorporates ongoing, interactive elements that encourage our community to directly engage with this work its central theme: Margin.  For example, participants are invited to draw or leave their comments in several sections of the mural. This allows our faculty, staff, students, and community members to connect this work to their own moments of marginalization or moments from within our liturgical, historical, and cultural traditions.
The remounting of this exhibition was timed to coincide with the liturgical reading of Exodus and the Spring Festivals (Pesach and Shavuot). Stretched along the walls of the Beit Midrash, Prayer Space, and Classroom area of the Mercaz are images representing the 42 encampments of the Israelites as they journeyed from slavery to freedom and from revelation into the wilderness. This is a poetic interpretation by the Culture Lab // Margin artists imagining the epic journey of our ancestors. We hope the opportunity to experience this exhibition will provide a meditative space to explore, encounter, and engage with our central narrative in new and unexpected ways.

The event will take place from 6 to 8 pm at HUC-JIR, located at 3077 University Ave., Los Angeles. Selected artists will speak at 7:00 pm. The event is free and open to the community. Please RSVP by April 29, 2015 to Hattie Pearson at

The pilot of Culture Lab was made possible by a Cutting Edge Grant from the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles.

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.