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.







Balance


I have been back in America for a while now, trying to adjust to it all over again.  I have never actually… adjusted to it.  

I’m just slow. I still strike everyone here as an obvious foreigner each time I go anywhere. Starbucks, the doctor, the supermarket. People hear my accent and get SO alarmed, or curious(which I prefer). They give me this surprised look!  Israel is almost never on the list of guesses to where I’m from, and if it is, well, how intelligent of them.

I don’t know what is my problem exactly.  I mean, I lived in the United States for a WHILE. Yet, it seems to be getting worst: my accent, my mentality about the situation, the food. I used to be anxious about this, Thinking: “Efrat, you must stop being so obvious. Act American.”.  But I  learned to give it a rest and just let myself be. I guess I am slow.  that’s ok.

I have to admit though, I never tried too hard: many of my friends in college were foreigners, and I studied about China and Japan most of the time in AMERICA. I am very close with my parents who are more Israeli than me (experience wise) and to whom I talk way too often about too many things. In addition, I never watched Gossip Girl!

But I do enjoy season 6 of Game of Thrones these days, yes!

With all due respect to these minor issues, the amount of luck that I have, being able to simply jump to America like this, stay and be,  is enormous. I am the only one in my family with this privilege. Which I got by luck. As I grow older, I get to understand my luck again and again. 

When I was little I was bullied a bit about this in the Kibbutz: “You are not a real Sabra” some kiddos said. Which made no sense to me, of course I am!,  I thought, what else can I be. The answer is:  So many things.

Trump or not Trump, America is to me, and will stay, a refuge, a place to rest and clear my mind. Truly, the land of the free. Though our relationship is subject to change. 

As I travel around the US and meet people, who speak and think unlike me, who teach unlike what I was taught, who inspire me, make me happy, or hurt me deeply ( I am sensitive. Not a Sabra at all in this regard.), I realize that in the end, I go back to my roots, and I learn to value them, to pull strength from them. It doesn’t matter where I am. 

I have to create my own balance. Define myself, without letting others do it for me. Then, I don’t feel like a stranger anywhere. 
It takes time. But it is ok to be slow.

I hope that as I become even older, busier and in love with the people around me, a bit more in love with myself as well maybe, I will find the time to look back at this period and see that it was healthy.

A piece from the SVA Chelsea Gallery beautiful Illustration exhibition I visited today