New Artists Share their Work at HUC-JIR/LA: Doni Silver Simons and Marcia Falk - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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New Artists Share their Work at HUC-JIR/LA: Doni Silver Simons and Marcia Falk

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Marked, an exhibit by Doni Silver Simons, and Inner East: Illuminated Poetry and Blessings, by Marcia Falk, will be on view through June 30, 2009, on the Los Angeles Campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.  Falk will be on campus to speak about her work in a lunch session with students and faculty on February 18th. 

Doni Silver Simons

Doni Silver Simons, 2007, Installation view

Doni Silver Simons says, “I am a mark-maker, and I have always seen myself as such.  This current body of work has followed me, indeed pursued me, for thirty years. A preoccupation with marking and a profound respect for time initially inspired this work. Wanting to visually document my life, lines replaced words, images reflected movement.” Her work is defined by its quietude, compulsion, and repetitive variation. Her mark-making mirrors Jewish ritual incorporating the observance and rhythm of the traditional Jewish calendar. During her exhibit, we read in the Torah about the 49 days between the Exodus from Egypt and the Revelation at Mount Sinai.  These 49 days between Passover and Shavuot are memorialized by counting the Omer. It is this ritual of counting that helps maintain the palpable connection between our history and the present.

Two of the pieces in this exhibit – “Weeks” and “Days” – are Omer calendars.  Part of the exhibition she is designing for the Los Angeles campus is a new installation piece as an Omer counter.  In the corner of the Makom T’fila, the sanctuary space in HaMercaz, there are seven strips of raw canvas, each of which represents one of the seven weeks of the Omer. Each week, a new canvas will arrive which will mark the days of that week.  When the community gathers to recite the blessing of the Omer in this sacred space and Doni makes her daily mark, we are, together, enhancing the observance of the mitzvah of marking sacred time and commemorating our collective and personal evolution from slavery to nobility.

Simons completed her M.F.A degree at Wayne State University. Simons’ work is in the public collections of the Detroit Institute of Art, the University of Michigan Art Museum, Cedar-Sinai Medical Center, the National Endowment of the Arts, the Michigan Council of the Arts, the Grand Rapids Art Museum, the Flint Institute of Arts, and the Allegheny County Community College. For the last thirty years, she has shown her work in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States. She currently resides in Los Angeles.


Marcia Falk

In this two-part exhibit of limited-edition fine-art prints, poet, translator, and painter Marcia Falk weds pencil drawings and oil pastel paintings with passages from two of her books, The Song of Songs: Love Lyrics from the Bible and The Book of Blessings: New Jewish Prayers for Daily Life, the Sabbath, and the New Moon Festival.

Marcia Falk, Psalm for Tuesday, limited-edition print, 9.5in x 16.5in

Falk’s now-classic translation of the biblical Song of Songs, in which the voices of women and men celebrate eros, sensuality, and the beauties of the natural world, has been praised by scholars, poets, and writers. Nobel Laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer wrote, “I thought until now that the Song of Songs could not be translated better than the King James Version. Marcia Falk has done an exceptional poetic job.” Falk’s expressively rendered botanical images accompany verses from her translation in the first part of the exhibition.

Marcia Falk, Earth, limited-editionprint, 9.5in x 12in

The second half of the exhibit displays Falk’s mizrachs, which juxtapose her intensely colored paintings with blessings and poems from The Book of Blessings, her re-creation, in Hebrew and English, of Jewish prayer. Hailed as a “liturgical and literary masterpiece” by HUC-JIR Professor of Liturgy Lawrence Hoffman, The Book of Blessings has become a resource for Jews of all persuasions who seek meaningful new connections to Jewish tradition. In her mizrachs, Falk extends the experience of prayer into the visual dimension. The traditional mizrach (the word means “east”) is a decorative plaque hung on an eastern wall of the home, indicating the direction to face in prayer. Pointing not to a geographical place but toward an “inner east,” Falk’s mizrachs provide the viewer with a focus for meditation, contemplation, and the prayer of the heart. Falk’s work is for sale by contacting Fredi Rembaum, Director of Development, at 213.765.2108

Arrangements to view the exhibits may be made by contacting the College-Institute at (213) 765-2106. Artists are available for interviews and appointments may be made in advance by contacting Adam M. Greenwald at (213) 765-2105 or at

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 leaders to serve 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, museums, 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.