Arts Letters & Numbers

I began 2019 arriving at Arts Letters & Numbers, a multidisciplinary artist in residency program in Averill Park, NY. In other words, I entered a snow forest, just far enough away from the bustling world.
We live in a big house: a weather-beaten, hilltop mansion that used to be all sorts of things in the past hundred and fifty years. Now, it is a creative home to fine artists, architects, dancers, musicians, and people who do a little bit of everything. The residents here change and shift all the time. Some come for a week, others for a month. 
My main goal coming here was to take some time away, in a very different environment than the one I had in Jerusalem. Living and working in Jerusalem for the past few years, I almost turned away from my artistic passions. I never stopped thinking about art, creating some and looking for it everywhere.  But there are some essential elements that lead to producing art and some of them are community, space and time. I am finding them here in ALN, and I will continue following them when I leave here, too. 

Sometimes you need to step far away from a place in order to get a fresh view on it or reflect upon it. I am processing my time in Jerusalem while here in the snow: through visuals, writings, and conversations with people.




In the beginning, I had some emotional moments emerging from the change of atmosphere or dwelling over past experiences. Those moments tended to happen after I had a glass of wine…

I think a large part of my core will always stay in Israel. But as I grow older, I learn to enjoy the places I am in and the company of those I am with at the given moment. I also think it is, to some extent, thanks to my core being more defined and stable than it used to be.

What I like the most about being here is all the people I get to meet in such a short amount of time. It reminds me of college 🙂 which I missed, social wise. 








Winter is rough here. I think I have never experienced a colder winter. There is a short walk between the house and the studio building. Which means I always HAVE to wear two layers of pants and many more layers above my waist.

Sometimes my brain turns off in the middle of the day because I am cold, it only comes back after a hot shower.







September Update (and a bit of October)

Hello!


Summer is gone, the holidays are finally over, fall and reddish colored leaves are not really something you see in Jerusalem, but October in the holy land will always be my favorite kind of October.


September was a shaky month, I faced some down thoughts and emotions. They related to a few uncertainties and challenges that are going on in my life. But that’s life. And I am working on embracing them. Overall, I think the changes are good for me.

In a month and a bit, I will be heading to the US, for a long period of time. I am planning on taking part in an Artist in Residency there this winter; something I’ve been wanting to do for the longest time.
My parents, who had their green card for a while, will soon be able to vote, which excites them. I, the only american (on papers) in the family, have been feeling very detached from the political scene there. Honestly, my interest mostly comes from how it influences Israel/Palestine. But lately, I’ve been far from that too. It’s probably better like this, for now. The things I am looking forward to the most in the US are simple: going groceries with my mom (checking out all the options Israel doesn’t have), sit at Barnes & Nobles with my dad and talk about nerdy things (I can do this for hours) and hear from my sister (who isn’t american on papers) about the american slang I never heard of (none of it basically).
One of the doctors I visited this past month told me: “you are very close to your family but you are trying to run away from that. Don’t worry though, once you form your own family you will feel better”. Sweet of him. Though I don’t think I will “form” a family anytime soon. There is still so much I want to explore on my own.


On Sukkot, I traveled north to the Golan to visit my aunt, who keeps with the mitzvah of building a sukkah every year, without a man. Women are not committed to a sukkah according to the texts, but here it is anyway, and it is marvelous. 

It’s a shame sukkah’s lifespan is 8 days and then it ought to be gone.    

Drawings of earthy growing foods. Seriously the most beautiful sukkah ever. My aunt is traditional and does things according to the halakha, but always adds her own artistic touch to everything. 

The round table in her studio 🙂 
A mountain monster in my sketchbook

The area where my aunt lives
Part of our breakfast. 
The candle is for my grandma who recently passed away

I’ve been meditating regularly for the past two weeks. I have a long way to go in my meditation journey, but I try to gently focus on the moment, on each morning, and each breath. 


Another Sukkah. Karen and I made drawings for it in my living room. It supports the Palestinian Beduin community at Khan Al Ahmar as they face the threat of demolition.
I am still thinking about the concept of sukkah against demolition. There is room for more on this topic, for sure.

Old City discoveries. Matilda (who speaks and reads all the languages) translating some Arabic as I take a photo. 

More from the old city. Some very beautiful calligraphy. 
I especially like this one.

Another page from my sketchbook



Language and Thinking

Yuko-San, my tutor for Japanese in college and a dear friend, recently started a new blog where she writes in English and Japanese and also talks about her two selves. It inspired me to ponder over my own language affair, as I swing between Hebrew and English daily. 

I was never very good at learning languages. When I do work on it, it requires a lot of concentration and practice. But I love the windows languages can open for you if you try hard. To other cultures and places, but mainly to people. 


Unlike Yuko-San, my native language is the more direct (and louder) one of the two. English is richer, it has more words, and you can very precisely say anything you mean to say. But I find it a bit sneaky too, as in a why do you say this if you actually mean that moment.  In Hebrew, people typically say whatever they think whenever they feel like it. Which can make your day rough. People here are rude. But Hebrew often brings pleasant sincerity into my life as well. 

It took me years to feel ‘capable’ of English. In the US, I spent forever speaking softly, slowly or being quiet. I hated it at first. But it gave me the opportunity to slow down and listen, observe, think, step back. Speaking only one language up until my adult life, my tongue used to run ahead of my soul, I let my emotions spilled out too quickly, I led myself to silly decisions. I rushed. I am still rushing, but less. In a way, English helped me grow.

I think I reached this stage in life where I am the same person in both languages. When people laugh at something grammatically weird I say they do it fondly, which helps me be myself.  It makes my friends my friends, and life feels more natural.


And if I am not satisfied with words alone, or when I simply cannot find them, I prefer drawing or smiling. 

A map I made for our Borders Seminar