Meet the 2015-2016 LABA Fellows

 Every year, a new crop of LABA Fellows gathers at the 14th Street Y over noshes and wine to discuss classic Jewish texts and create artwork inspired by our dialogue. After waiting all summer, we are very excited for next week’s launch of the 2015-2016 Fellowship! Our theme is BEAUTY.
Meet our fellows (drumroll, please…)

Gal Beckerman, an author and journalist, was the opinion editor at The Forward. He was also a longtime editor and staff writer at the Columbia Journalism Review and has written for the New York TimesBoston Globe, and The Wall Street Journal, among other publications. He was a Fellow at the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Berlin and the recipient of a Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. His first book, When They Come for Us, We’ll Be Gone, was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in September 2010. It was named was one of the best books of the year by The New Yorker and the Washington Post, and received both the 2010 National Jewish Book Award and the 2012 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature.

Gon Ben Ari is a critically acclaimed writer in Israel, known for two novels (Sequoia Children is being translated into English) and for his magazine writing at major Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronot. He is currently located in Brooklyn, NY, where he writes fiction (Ben Ari was titled a MacDowell Fellow for 2014), film, and journalism (Forward, New York and Yedioth Ahronot, Israel).

Artist Lital Dotan dedicated most of the past decade to creating utopian environments for performance in the domestic sphere. Her Brooklyn-based Glasshouse ArtLifeLab, co-founded with Eyal Perry, is nourishing artists and audiences across generations and disciplines. She is the founder of Que sal mah, the newly launched concept boutique that merges performance, art and fashion. An immersive integration of installation, documentation and life, her performance narratives are designed to challenge structures and mechanisms across art and society, dissolving and re-imagining through harsh intimacy notions of space, audience, art, value and success.

Exploring the personal and the idiosyncratic aspects of music-making, Brooklyn composer Lainie Fefferman’s most recent commissions have been from ETHEL, Kathleen Supové, TILT Brass, James Moore, Eleonore Oppenheim, JACK Quartet, and Dither. Her recent evening length piece Here I Am for Newspeak and Va Vocals, the culmination of her residency at Roulette through the Jerome Foundation for the 2013-2014 season, was warmly received by a sold out audience. Starting in April 2015, she began her time at HERE Arts Center as a resident fellow, where she will create a multimedia opera based on ancient mathematical texts for sopranos Mellissa Hughes, Caroline Shaw, and Martha Cluver, with Mantra Percussion and lighting designer Eric Southern. Fefferman is the founder and co-director of Exapno, a New Music Community Center in Downtown Brooklyn, lead-organizes the New Music Bake Sale, and is co-founder of the New Music Gathering, a national new music event. She received her doctorate in composition from Princeton and continues to be a performing member of Princeton-based laptop ensemble Sideband.

Joshua Max Feldman is a writer of fiction and plays. His debut novel, The Book of Jonah, a modern retelling of the Biblical Book of Jonah set in contemporary New York City, was published in the U.S. in February, 2014, by Henry Holt. Amazon named The Book of Jonah the Debut Novel of the Month, and the New York Times praised it for “storytelling infused with energy” and declared it “worth applauding.” The Book of Jonah has been translated into nine languages, published in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Israel, and more. Joshua’s New York theater career began when his play HeartBreakWordMusic was produced at the Under St. Mark’s Theatre. Joshua’s theatrical works have also been featured as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Williamstown Theatre Festival, and have been produced in New York at the 78th Street Theatre Lab, the HERE Arts Center, the Flea Theater, and more.

Jessica Gross writes fiction, essays, and criticism. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review Daily, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Longreads, New York Magazine’s Vulture, Kirkus Reviews, and more. In 2014, she did a test run of a writer’s residency on an Amtrak train from New York to Chicago and back. The response to her Paris Review Daily essay about the experience—which was covered by The New Yorker online, The New York Times, The Atlantic Wire, WNYC, and others—helped spur Amtrak to launch a formal program. Jessica has conducted interviews with novelists, actors, psychoanalysts, chefs, musicians, academics, film directors, cartoonists, a professional live storyteller, and a former spy. She teaches creative nonfiction at the Sackett Street Writers Workshop, and received her Master’s in cultural reporting and criticism from NYU and her Bachelor’s in anthropology from Princeton University.

Shanti Grumbine received her MFA from the University of Pennsylvania and her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is a visual artist who transforms appropriated print media through paper cutting, drawing, collage, printmaking, sculpture and performance. By removing, fracturing and recombining text and image from journalistic sources and advertising, she makes space for what has been censored as well as what has been lost in the translation of experience into words. Select exhibition venues include A.I.R. Gallery, Muroff Kotler Visual Art Gallery at SUNY Ulster, CCA Sante Fe, Mandeville Gallery at Union College, The Dorsky Museum, The Bronx Museum, Magnan-Metz Gallery, Planthouse Gallery and IPCNY. Residencies include Vermont Studio Center, Millay Colony, Ucross, Yaddo, Wave Hill Winter Workspace Residency, Lower East Side Printshop Keyholder Residency, A.I.R Gallery Fellowship, 2014 Ota Artist in Residence, Tokyo, Japan, Artist in the Marketplace (AIM), Women’s Studio Workshop and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art. She lives and works in New Paltz, NY and New York City.

Rebecca Margolick and Maxx Berkowitz are a Brooklyn based integrative and experimental performance collaborative.

Rebecca Margolick was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada. She graduated with an honors BFA in Dance from NYU – Tisch School of the Arts and received the J.S. Seidman Award for Excellence in Dance. Primarily based in NYC, Rebecca is a company member with Sidra Bell Dance New York. She currently works with Shay Kuebler Radical System Arts in Vancouver, Chuck Wilte’s UNA Projects in NYC and with Derrick Belcham and Emily Terndrup. She has received grants from the Canada Council and BC Arts Council to attend workshops around the world. Rebecca has taught at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Rutgers University, Simon Fraser University, Tanz Farm in Atlanta and will be co-directing a class at University of the Arts in Philadelphia this fall semester.

Maxx Berkowitz is an interactive art director / designer, as well as a guitarist in the band Twin Wave. He has a wide creative skill set including video, photography, animation and development. After graduating from Syracuse University with a dual major in Graphic Design and Information Management and Technology, Maxx worked as a designer at Showtime Premium Television Networks and the digital agency Bajibot. Since beginning freelancing in August 2013, Maxx has worked on projects from the award-winning 2013 interactive Macy’s holiday windows to websites for Mercedes, Time Inc. and Starbucks and for many top advertising agencies including Razorfish, JWT and Wunderman.

Kendell Pinkney is a Texas-born, Brooklyn-based theatre writer. A graduate of Oberlin College and New York University’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, his collaborative works and songs have been performed and/or developed at venues such as 54 Below, Two Rivers Theatre Company, Goodspeed Opera House, Musical Theatre Factory, The 52nd Street Project, and Joe’s Pub, to name a few. Additionally, he was commissioned by Pursuit Productions to pen a new play based on the Lilith myth, which will premiere in Chicago in late 2016/early 2017. More recently, his broader interests in identity, race, and Jewishness led him to team up with renowned spoken-word artist Vanessa Hidary (aka, the Hebrew Mamita) to produce Kaleidoscope, a multi-media project and monologue showcase highlighting Jews of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. When not writing for the stage, Kendell is extensively involved in Jewish life and education in Brooklyn, and can often be found at a local cafe buried in the footnotes of a new book on Hebrew Bible or Second Temple Literature.

VISITING FELLOWS:

Hanan Elstein is an Israeli editor and translator, living in Brooklyn since 2013. Hanan studied philosophy, history, literature, cultural studies and law at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg, Germany. He has been working as an editor of Hebrew and translated world literature, both fiction and non-fiction, since 2001. He has edited renowned Israeli authors such as Assaf Gavron, Liat Kaplan and Yossi Suckari. He translated over 15 titles from German to Hebrew, including works by Walter Benjamin, Immanuel Kant, Jean Améry, Joachim Fest, Heinrich von Kleist, Irmgard Keun, Elfriede Jelinek, Werner Bräunig and Christian Kracht. In the past few years he has been collaborating on international theater projects, mostly co-productions of German and Israeli theaters. These productions are usually multilingual (Arabic, German and Hebrew) works evolving through an extensive process of intellectual research and creative endeavor between directors, actresses, play writers and translators. For these projects he has translated various texts of Heinrich Heine, Klaus Mann, Leni Riefenstahl and Gustaf Gründgens, as well as a variety of documentary materials. Hanan has written several essays for literary supplements in Israeli newspapers, as well as many theater reviews.

Lior Zalmanson is a writer, new media artist, curator and researcher, whose works mostly focus on the digital culture and the information society. His first play, Yingale, has won the Haifa Fringe festival in 2009 and received a local production in Belgrade by the former Serbian minister of culture, Bratislav Petković. His latest works were portrayed in the Israel Museum, Tzavta Theater, Hansen house and the Jerusalem Film Festival. In 2011, Lior founded Print Screen Festival, Israel’s digital arts festival, which connects thousands of artists, researchers and technologists and explores themes of digital culture in cinema and the audio-visual arts. Lior is a Fulbright visiting scholar to NYU, researching engagement and knowledge sharing dynamics in online and offline environments.

Stay tuned for more information on upcoming year of BEAUTY here on the LABA Journal, on Twitter, and on Facebook. Read more about LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture here.
Learn more about our previous fellows:
2014-2015
2013-2014
2012-2013
2011-2012

KALEIDOSCOPE – “What Does Jewish Look Like?”

We sat down with Israel Bitton, an actor in the upcoming show KALEIDOSCOPE taking place July 15-19 2015 in The Theater here at the 14th Street Y. Kaleidoscope asks and answers the question, What does Jewish look like? Effectively exploring and validating diversity with the Jewish community.
Actor Brian Britton
Actor Israel Bitton

How did you get involved in KALEIDOSCOPE? 

Several years back I stumbled upon HBO’s Def Jam Poetry when Vanessa Hidary appeared and so passionately delivered a great performance of her piece “The Hebrew Mamita.” It struck a chord. I was proud that she was ‘representin’ us, and at the same time it occurred to me that one day I’d love to do the same. Then I saw her post this project, and it was just an obvious and immediate entry point for me.
 
What has the creative process been like?
Challenging. Rewarding. Vanessa and Kendell, through the workshop portion of this project, have helped each cast member reach into our personal histories so that we can craft monologues that are both deeply personal and still entertaining for audiences.
 
How do you view and identify yourself?
The world would peg me as a Modern-Orthodox Sephardic American Jew, but I don’t believe nationality, culture or observance level to be an essential part of my identity. It’s only a flavoring, and therefore I simply identify myself as a Jew.
 
What would you say defines you as a Jewish identifying person?
My kippah. My name (Yisrael Barouch). My soul.
 
Can you tell us about what you will be performing at KALEIDOSCOPE?
I explore my journey from being one of the few Sephardic kids in an all-Ashkenazi school system, the trials and tribulations that come along with that experience, my attempt to invent a new identity for myself, to coming to terms with my name, and ultimately, accepting my full identity as a means for true personal growth.
 
What have you been most surprised about and/or learned the most about during this process?
Aside from the very practical enhancement to writing and performance skills, I’m most surprised by just how diverse our cast really is. As someone who has a unique backstory and perspective, I generally have a broad worldview that allows me to see people beyond the stereotypes. And still, I thought that there would be so many similarities between the cast members that some stories would be redundant. Not so. If you’ll see the first black Jewish cast member perform, and when the second comes up you’ll think you now know what to expect, well, you’ll be surprised at just how unique every individual is. The end lesson, even for me as a cast member, is that despite being told we’re too different, or not good enough, we’re all essentially one and the same. And though we share a common thread that essentially connects us, that connection doesn’t have to compromise our right to self-discovery and the assuming of our unique identities, backgrounds, stories and trajectories.
 
 In the end, people that watch these performances will certainly be challenged to broaden their conception of what constitutes the Jewish identity.

XpuKM2HM63vBbEctGntYKC1DL-k8M3xc4pKds5QGB5MThe 14th Street Y and The Hebrew Mamita Present:

Kaleidoscope

Developed and Directed by Vanessa Hidary
July 15-19, 2015

Get tickets HERE.

Vivid Reflections. Boldly Diverse. Distinctly Jewish.

The World Premiere of Kaleidoscope, a multi-media project and monologue showcase sparked by a desire to highlight Jews of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds and observance levels, will be presented at The Theater at the 14th Street Y, 344 E. 14th Street, on July 15th and 16th at 8pm, and on July 19 at 3pm.

Through extensively crafted, deeply personal stories, Kaleidoscope will delve into the ever-popular question “What does Jewish look like to you?” The diverse and talented cast includes performers of a wide range of ethnicities, including Moroccan, British, Jamaican, Ethiopian, Libyan, and Puerto Rican.

The Mar Vista in The DANCE Enthusiast

The Dance Enthusiast Asks Yehuda Hyman/ Mystical Feet Company About “THE MAR VISTA” and Wartime Romance

The Dance Enthusiast Asks Yehuda Hyman/ Mystical Feet Company About “THE MAR VISTA” and Wartime Romance

Published on June 1, 2015

Photo © Paula Court

Presented by LABA, a laboratory for Jewish culture.

Creative Credits:

Artistic Director & Choreographer: Yehuda Hyman

Performers: Yehuda Hyman, Ron Kagan, Dwight Kelly and Amanda Schussel

Costume Designer: Amy Page

Performance Details:

When: June 11-14, 2015

Where: The Theater at the 14th Street Y, East 14th Street (14th St & lst Ave)

Tickets: $18 presale, $22.50 at the door. Call 646-395-4310 or buy online.

More info HERE.

THE MAR VISTA is performed in 3 parts:

I:  Hamsa, a solo performed by Hyman, deals with curses, Passover, the 10 plagues and his father.

II:  Leaning Into Moisture, a duet for Hyman and Amanda Schussel, concerns his mother and her forbidden wartime romance in Istanbul.

III:  Cincinnati takes place in Cincinnati in 1951. Specifically, on the night that Hyman’s father proposed to his mother – in a hurry.


Yehuda Hyman and Amanda Schussel in Part II – “Leaning into Moisture.” © Paula Court.

Sammi Lim for The Dance Enthusiast: Tell me about Mystical Feet Company. When was it founded? Why the endearing name?  What qualities characterize your dance troupe?

Yehuda Hyman, Artistic Director of Mystical Feet Company: This engagement marks the premiere of Yehuda Hyman/Mystical Feet as an entity, but is something I have been building for the last four years. You might say that it was officially founded in December 2014 when I gathered a small group of performing artists whom I was very interested in collaborating with. Mystical Feet is a dance/theater company, which is about making dances, telling stories and weaving spells – I think that says what we do.

Why “feet” and not Mystical Fingers or Mystical Elbows? Well, a few reasons. First: for many years, I have been working with Hasidic tales that delve into the world of Jewish mysticism. The tale “7 Beggars” told by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov in 1810 concerns seven beggars, each with a disability, which is in fact their greatest gift. The seventh Beggar in the story has no feet. This beggar, appearing footless to our world, actually has the most dynamic feet.  There is an interpretation, which calls to me, that when this footless beggar dances, the entire world will be transformed and perfected. Another reason is: as a 15-year old dance student, I came to New York to audition for a scholarship to study with a dance school in Europe. I had only been studying ballet for about a year, but I had a fervent desire to dance. I entered a class taught by a very famous ballet teacher at the time (I will never say who). The class was packed with about 50 dancers. The teacher walked by me as I did my téndus and said in an extremely loud and theatrical voice: “Young man, you have the ugliest feet I have ever seen!” I laugh about it now and actually, even at the time I thought it was funny. I love the idea of what is considered the lowest being the highest. Our feet are the lowest point on our bodies, but they touch the earth and through that connection, we have the potential to turn things upside down… Mystical Feet!

Yehuda Hyman performs solo in Part I – “Hamsa.” © Paula Court.

TDE: Is this your first time working with LABA or have you collaborated prior? How is THE MAR VISTA inspired by Jewish texts?

YH: LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture, which is in residence at the 14th Street Y in Manhattan, has a Fellowship Program. I was a LABA Fellow for 2013/2014. It was a fabulous experience. We would meet as a group at least once a month to study ancient Jewish texts, discuss, dissect, and eat! Every LABA Fellowship year has a different theme – mine was “Mother.” As soon as I saw that on the application I knew I had to be in the “Mother” year as I had been gathering material to make a piece about my mother since 2000.  It was time to do this.

In our monthly study sessions we looked at the great, hot-blooded sexy mothers of the Jewish scriptures: Eve, Sara, et cetera. Our sessions were led by Ruby Namdar, a brilliant writer and scholar. The sessions were always provocative and sometimes more than that. Immersing myself in mythic tales of the Jewish matriarchs in a completely uncensored forum freed me to create the second part of The Mar Vista on a deeper level than I had previously been able to get to with this project.

Srul Chait (Charles Hyman) and Sara Güver Hyman: Hyman’s parents on their wedding day in 1951.

TDE: THE MAR VISTA synthesizes dance, gesture, spoken word, improvisation and ritual. Does merging various art forms help fill in the gaps in your ‘fractured memoir’?

YH: There are dances that can only be made with words, there are poems that can only be danced by the hands. Whatever it takes, whatever form it takes to tell the story, to express the emotion that must be expressed, that is the form it takes. In our process of making work, we often go along telling the tale as a dance, and then suddenly it reaches a point and must be told in words. Our stories are told backwards and forwards and sideways too. My feet are in many worlds, many different dance languages: flamenco, Bharata Natyam, Eastern-European folk dance. I am a playwright and a poet. During rehearsals, we frequently sit and write before we make our dances. I use the term, “fractured memoir” because there are many breaks in the story – parts that I actually don’t know (my father did not communicate much of his history to me) and parts that I don’t know how to tell.

TDE: The work is also a love letter to Mar Vista, your colorful childhood neighborhood in Los Angeles. How did growing up in the City of Angels inform your artistic upbringing?

YH: During my childhood summers, my mother would gather my sister and brother and me, haul us on to the bus, and we’d be at the beach, in the water, from morning till sundown. I am a child of the Pacific Ocean and it’s in my blood. Also, I was literally born in Hollywood in a hospital that used to be on Sunset Boulevard. It’s a Scientology Center now! Hollywood, illusion, Technicolor magic, big stories – this is part of who I am.

As a 12-year old, I would stand outside 20th Century Fox Studios waiting for a glimpse of Barbra Streisand (she was filming “Hello Dolly” at the time). The space, the sun, the ocean, the actual “lack” of community formed me and is probably present in my work. I don’t know if I would actually call this show a “love letter” to Mar Vista. My childhood in the West Los Angeles neighborhood was equal parts wonderment and pain. Just so you know – this piece, THE MAR VISTA, is conceived as a two-part evening. The first part, presented this June, has everything to do with the longing for the sea (you will know why when you come), but is only briefly set in the actual neighborhood of Mar Vista. Most of Part I of THE MAR VISTA is about the separate stories of my parents – as witnessed by the adult me – and how they came together in a most unlikely romance.

13-year old Sara Güver Hyman (Yehuda Hyman’s mother) with a tambourine in Istanbul.

TDE: Part II of THE MAR VISTA addresses your mother’s forbidden wartime romance in Istanbul. When my grandparents fell in love, their romance too, was verboten. I believe that falling in love under complicated circumstances can often result in stronger relationships. Do you?

YH: Ooh – I’d love to hear about your grandparent’s verboten romance. I love stories, always have – I can sit and listen to people’s stories for a very long time. My mother’s two-year affair during World War II in Istanbul was the strongest and most lasting romantic connection of her entire life (this was according to her – and relayed to me after my father’s death). It was a romance that could not possibly continue, for reasons that will be obvious to the audience of THE MAR VISTA. I can’t tell you about my mother’s romance because I don’t want to ruin the experience of discovering it when you see the show. My mother was “romantic” from the tips of her Gypsy feet to the ends of her expressive dancing fingers. Romantic, alas, almost always implies a complication, a longing for something that can’t be.

TDE: Which is your favorite part of the performance? I know it’s diplomatic to say you like a show in its entirety, but there’s always a part you’re particularly pleased with or proud of.

YH: Oh… the hard question. It changes every day and we are still very much in the process making the third part of our show, “Cincinnati, 1951.” Right now, there’s a part where the performers, Amanda Schussel, Ron Kagan and Dwight Richardson Kelly, are telling-dancing the history of my mother’s pre-marriage romances. There were a few! The music in the background is an extraordinarily beautiful rendition of the song, “Historia de un Amor” in a 1950s recording by Luis Alberto del Paraná and the group Los Paraguayos. There is a moment where Amanda, playing my mother at age 32, is dancing an erotic duet with Dwight who is playing a Rumanian Furrier. Ron, playing my father, a Polish tailor is taking my mother’s measurements with a tailor’s measuring tape as she’s dancing with the Furrier. I (as myself) am observing the whole thing. I think it’s simultaneously beautiful, hot, funny, sad, and probably inappropriate. I like it.

This Weekend at the Y: Purim Fun for Everyone

by Rabbi Shira Koch Epstein, Executive Director

Purim is a holiday that is a thankful and joyful affirmation of Jewish survival, focused on joy and hope. We celebrate an ancient tale–the Book of Esther (aka the Megillah)– to remind us that we celebrate our remembered escape from persecution by generous acts towards those who are currently in need.

At the Y, we are excited to invite everyone in the neighborhood to celebrate together this weekend, at Pause/Play on Saturday, 2/28 and at a LABAKids concert on Sunday, 3/1. 

Saturday’s Pause/Play  will feature many celebratory Purim themed activities such as juggling, art (making masks), games and sports with our wonderful New Country Day Camp staff. Kids are encouraged to come in costume and join in a Purim Parade.  Adults can participate in activities with their children, or separately in two very special activities just for them.

Childcare and kid drop off activities are available!

On Sunday, enjoy LABAKIDS Purim concert together with your kids. Come in your favorite costume, make masks for an animal parade and take snapshots with our photo booth!

Each of these events are fun and accessible ways to get into the Purim spirit.  Everyone is welcome.

Traditionally, there are four observances for Purim–and each one has ways to engage at the 14th Street Y:

  1. Retelling the Purim story, frequently with humor and levity, dressed up in costumes as the characters in the story. This weekend at the Y, you can wear a costume to Saturday’s Pause/Play, bring toddlers in costume to our singalong at 4:00PM with Debbie Brukman, and party at the LABAKIDS concert on Sunday.
  1. Having a majestic celebratory feast, which traditionally includes healthy adults getting drunk. We hope that you will come enjoy delicious snacks at Pause/Play sponsored by Colson Patisserie and Sweet Loren, and that adults will drop off their kids at NCDC classes and come to the whisky tasting at 4:45PM with Dan Friedman.
  1. Giving financial gifts (tzedakah or charity) to those in need (matanot l’evyonim)
  2. Giving care packages of food and other treats to our friends and neighbors (mishloach manot).

As you decide how to give to your friends and to those in need, come chat with NY Times “Your Money” Columnist Ron Lieber as he discusses his new book, The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids who are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money–and think with your neighbors about how to raise kids with excellent values who know how to save, splurge, and give in meaningful ways.

We hope to see you all this weekend for a wonderful celebration!

LABA at the 14th Street Y Receives National Endowment for the Arts Grant

LABA dance

New York City—National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Jane Chu announced today that the 14th Street Y’s LABA is one of 919 nonprofit organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Art Works Grant. LABA is recommended for a $10,000 grant to support the LABAlive series, which showcases original art from a selected group of artist fellows four to six times per year.

Each year, the 14th Street Y’s LABA fellows study together in a non-religious house of study, or Beit Midrash, using classic Jewish texts to inspire the creation of new art and thought. These artists are selected from a large pool of applicants, all professional artists, and are in residence with LABA for a full year.   Recent themes, which serve as an organizing principle for the selection of text and programming for the year, have included The Body, Pardes (Paradise), Eros, Blueprint, Eat, and Mother. This year’s theme is Time.

The artistic directors of LABA meet with the artists weekly to provide mentorship and guidance, as well as to develop and produce each show.

Each LABAlive show features two to three works in progress from different disciplines, accompanied by a lecture to give context to program, and followed by a post-show reception. One show may feature music, dance and visual art, while another may showcase theater, poetry and multimedia. LABA groups artists according to how their works correlate to one another, their project’s development and how their works speak to one another.

Announcing the grant recommendations, NEA Chairman Jane Chu said, “I’m pleased to be able to share the news of our support through Art Works including the award to the 14th Street Y’s LABA.  The arts foster value, connection, creativity and innovation for the American people and these recommended grants demonstrate those attributes and affirm that the arts are part of our everyday lives.”

“It is an honor for the 14th Street Y to join the ranks of NEA grant recipients, along with other arts organizations like the Apollo Theater, Lincoln Center, and the Public-Shakespeare Festival. In downtown Manhattan, artists are hungry for space and support—and the National Endowment for the Arts allows LABA at the 14th Street Y to provide those, as well as community and the inspiration of Jewish text.” says Rabbi Shira Koch Epstein, Executive Director of the 14th Street Y, a program of the Educational Alliance. “We have always been proud that LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture is such a unique incubator for artists and culture makers, and we are thrilled to have our program recognized and supported in this way.

Art Works grants support the creation of art, public engagement with art, lifelong learning in the arts, and enhancement of the livability of communities through the arts.  The NEA received 1,474 eligible applications under the Art Works category, requesting more than $75 million in funding.  Of those applications, 919 are recommended for grants for a total of 26.6 million.

For a complete listing of projects recommended for Art Works grant support, please visit the NEA website at arts.gov. Follow the conversation about this and other NEA-funded projects on Twitter at #NEAFall2014.

LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture proudly selected for SLINGSHOT 2014-2015

slingshot button
// // //

The 14th Street Y is incredibly proud that LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture has been named as one of North America’s top 82 innovative Jewish organizations in the tenth annual Slingshot Guide.  The Guide has become a go-to resource for volunteers, activists and donors looking for new opportunities and projects that, through their innovative nature, will ensure the Jewish community remains relevant and thriving.

Here’s what Slingshot says about why LABA was chosen for this year’s guide.

LABA

A laboratory for Jewish culture where classic Jewish texts inspire the creation of new art.

Why It’s In Slingshot

The Jewish community has a rich cultural tradition full of art, literature, theater, and dance inspired by Jewish text and history. Recognizing that some Jews experience their Jewish identities through cultural platforms rather than religious expression, LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture creates opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to engage with Jewish texts in creative, open-minded, and intellectually stimulating ways. LABA uses classic Jewish texts to inspire the creation of new artistic work, combining tradition with experimentation in ways that bring new energy to the experience of Jewish life and culture. Each year, LABA chooses a theme that serves as an organizing principle for its programming. LABA: House of Study then serves as an incubator for
10 to 15 artists who study classic Jewish texts on this theme and interpret them via their various art forms. LABAlive, an ongoing series of original events and performances, serves as a showcase for LABA artists and engages diverse members
of the community in text study, conversation, and Jewish culture. LABA’s continued success and expansion illustrates how supporting Jewish culture makers can transform a community and deepen engagement with communal life.

To learn more about Slingshot, click here.

To learn more about LABA and this year’s theme, TIME, visit www.Labajournal.com.

Print

International Fellow Mirta Kupferminc Tells Her Story

International LABA Fellow Mirta Kupferminc creates in a vast array of mediums to tell her story. She spoke to us from Argentina as she prepares for the debut of three of her works at LABAlive MOTHER: Martyr on April 24, 2014 at the Theater at The 14th Street Y.

At the Beginning

Q: In one word, describe your work?

A: SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICOESPIALIDOSO

Q: What is your primary medium?

A: I have no limitations. I’ve recently had a huge break-through in metal print-making. I would say that my work is very conceptual and I work in the specific medium I feel is necessary for each project.

Q: What influences you?

A: Referring to theme, my work’s core is memory, identity, and human rights. My life experiences deeply influence my work. It is all an expression of my own life and a kind of testimony of my world view.

Q: Describe your process for us.

A: Fortunately, I am full of ideas and I am very open to life. When something comes from an outside source that awakens my interests I wish to talk about that in my work. An image immediately comes to my mind. From there, I trust myself and accept the many other possibilities. In art, everything is endless. I begin trying to figure out how to reach my goal. If I see that I cannot do it by myself, I try to shape a team. Self confidence and a great collaborative group is very important in my creative process.

Q: How has being a LABA fellow informed you and your art?Nueva imagen

A: I AM MY WORK! I live what I am producing. I have spent my whole year working on this synnergy with my art. I usually immerse my soul in the work. It demands a lot of time because I always try to study what I am pursuing. My works for LABA opened many, many more ideas in my mind than other projects up to now. Being a LABA Fellow will forever remain with me. LABA’s ideals match perfectly with my inner searches in life: origin, identity, learning, group dynamics, exchanges of ideas, and producing art.

Q: How has “MOTHER” influenced you throughout this whole process?

A: My mother is a major figure in my work. She is an Auschwitz survivor and the feeling of responsibility for telling our story is the main intention in my creative process. Thinking about and understanding mothers both metaphorically and universally, not just in a personal way, made me experience so many different feelings, not only as a daughter or a mother, but also as a wife, sister, and as a friend to other women.

Q: How long does it take for you to conceptualize, create, and get to the final product?

A: LABA is the first time I think I’ve presented my work in a performance setting. Before this, I did some set design and I did an on-site installation in an art gallery of my work “The Skin of Memory.” LABA is a new way of conceptualizing my presentation and it was not easy for me. With guidance, support, and advice from the LABA team, the process was made easier.

Q: Final thoughts?

A: I am a hard worker that is always continuing to create. I work in so many different mediums: painting, printmaking, video, installation, book making, sculptural objects, and sometimes I am not worried about using labels for what I do. Although the materials differ, the search is always the same: identity, memory, knowledge, and testimony.

See Mirta’s work at LABAlive MOTHER: Martyr on April 24, 2014 at the Theater at The 14th Street Y.