Tuesday, December 7, 2010

JAMmARTt Has an Exhibition

After more than two years of meeting, planning, creating, JAMmARTt opened it's first exhibition. It is called "Art Without Borders: A Celebration of Humanity." The exhibit opened in the Montgomery County (Maryland) Executive Office Building. on October 7, 2010. The opening reception was attended by more than 100 people. The artists and their families were there to celebrate. The County Executive Ike Legett also attended and spoke at the opening ceremony. He spoke about how it takes just one person to start something that can make a difference. The members of JAMmARTt were all very moved by his words. In our case, we were 16 people who made a difference. The opening event brought in many people from the community at large who now have a better understanding of Judaism and Islam, and now know that people can work together and build relationships through a project, in our case, a piece of art. The county is so pleased with having the artwork in their lobby that they have asked to have the piece stay there. It is now there for at least another few months. We are interested in traveling the art to other venues in the Washington area. If you are interested in displaying the art, please contact Betsy Miller at bnahmiller@hotmail.com.
To read more, see the article from the Rockville Gazette http://www.gazette.net/stories/10062010/olnenew230217_32549.php

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


We had a very productive meeting in Paul's studio last Sunday. It was great to see all the artwork that people have been working on. The artwork is beautiful, vibrant, colorful and meaningful. Everyone brought something unique to the table and somehow they flow together. We were all inspired by seeing what the group has been working on during the time from our last meeting to this one. With Paul's incredible production and problem=solving skills, craftsmanship, and eye, almost all of the structures have at least one panel with artwork applied. The only exception being the center cylinder, the central shared piece of the project, which we will begin to address next time. We'll meet again on Sunday, January 10, 2010. This will be the third calendar year of our project! We will continue applying the Jewish and Muslim panels in the beginning and then will move on to brainstorming the shared panels. It's also time to seriously start thinking about venues and fundraising to travel the exhibition.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Seeing Is Believing

Since my last post, we have been working both individually and in smaller groups to actually create the artwork for the different panels. Meeting as a full group was difficult due to summer vacations, Ramadan, and Jewish High Holidays. However, we did get together one evening in September. We celebrated Ramadan by breaking the fast at Shela's house. The meal was organized and prepared by the Muslim artists. Those of us who could make it brought spouses along too and it was a lively, lovely, social evening. For me, and I know for others, it was wonderful to experience this part of Muslim tradition. And the meal was absolutely delicious! The Jewish artists are planning an event to reciprocate the sharing of tradition. So that was great but we actually have been doing more than socializing and eating! Last week we got together again as a group and everyone brought what they have been working on all summer. It was amazing to get to Paul's studio and see all the structures in life size. It made this whole project feel very real. Seeing the size and scale of the structures made it it clear that this project is not only powerful figuratively but literally as well. We made some progress applying the artwork that was in a finished enough state to do so and two of the panels have now come along very nicely and look beautiful.
We decided to get together next on Sunday, November 22 at 2:00 PM at Paul’s studio. At that time we're going to plan out and work on the shared panels. We'll also apply whatever additional completed art work there is to the structures. It's a great feeling to be able to see all the planning starting to become reality!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Taking Shape

Since my last post, we have actually met three times - in April, June, and most recently on July 13. At our last meeting, we met in Paul’s studio and were all very impressed with the work he does, his space, the artwork, and that he still manages to devote so much time and energy to JAMmARTt. Paul picked up a delicious Middle Eastern spread, which we all enjoyed before the meeting. In fact a good part of the meeting was spent in socializing and eating---a sure sign that we are getting to know and enjoy each other's company. After a tour of the studio, we discussed the physical requirements for some of the designed panels. We reviewed the model and all the required panels. Paul cut to size a few of the panels, as well as canvas backgrounds which can later be glued to hard panels. Our goal is to bring the individual Muslim and individual Jewish panels to our next meeting in as finished a state as possible. Once we see how they all lay out, we will work together on the shared panels. Our next get together will be during Ramadan to break the fast on the evening of September 12 at 8:00 PM. Spouses are invited. Our next official meeting, due to Ramadan, Rosh Hashannah, Yom Kippur, etc. will not be until October in Paul’s studio. But this will give everyone a lot of time to work on the panels. I mentioned to a few people during the meeting that the synagogue of which many of the Jewish artists in the group belong, Tikvat Israel, is working on an interfaith event in January. If we have the piece finished enough to display, this would be a nice venue to do so. And of course, we need to all be thinking about public spaces where it can be displayed when finished. Overall, it was very exciting to be in the studio and begin to work out some of the physical details. I think it clarified for many of us the 3-D aspect and gave us a better concept of the size. We’re all looking forward to seeing each other after the summer and to seeing the beautiful artwork that will be done during the next few months.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Structure for the Artwork

We met again, as planned on Sunday February 22, 2009. Before beginning the meeting, Sabir invited us all (including spouses) to an interfaith dinner and event to take place at the Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring. It will take place on Sunday March 8 at 5 pm.
We all admired the model that Paul prepared of the structure of the piece. After some discussion we agreed that this is the form we want it to be in and so the structure is set! The content and design is still to be worked on. The overall size is approximately 25 feet long, 8 feet high at the center and approximately 20 inches in depth. There will be 18 main surfaces to work upon. These do not include tops and edges. We agreed upon the delegation of the 18 panels in terms of being Jewish, Muslim or shared. The center panel will be cylindrical and will lend itself to being wrapped in fabric. It will be a shared panel of Muslim and Jewish symbols and ideals. The focus will be on what we have in common in the center panel. The two structures next to the cylinder may have plexiglass. If we want to include plexi we’ll need to fundraise for it. We looked at designs that Marsha, Shela, Amna, Shirley and Nabila prepared. Both Shirley’s and Marsha’s had images of trees. Nabila’s showed the olive tree, a minaret and mosque and a moon. Amna’s designs included palm trees and a scene of the Kaaba and hajj. Shela had ceramic tiles with scenes of domes, minarets, flowers, and trees. We discussed the idea of running calligraphy along the edges. Calligraphy can be a key part of many of the panels. We may leave one of the 18 surfaces available for a written statement about the creation and process of the piece. There is some concern that it may affect the art. We’ll decide upon that later but for now the idea is still on the table.
We decided that the next step is to come up with sketches for content. We’ll start with two design teams, one Jewish and one Muslim. Each team will come up with black and white sketches for the panels. Shela will lead the Muslim design team and Marsha will lead the Jewish design team. Shirley and Marsha are thinking that the Jewish panels will focus on the cycle of the year and holidays. Shela repeated what the Muslim artists stated last time that the main focus will be the Surah, Ar-Rachman, which can include images of stars, moon, light, nature, trees. For the shared panels, everyone should come up with lists of symbols and ideals that should be part of the shared panels. Paul will bring large paper to the next meeting and we can begin to sketch some of the ideas. One idea that emerged is that of showing side by side two important related texts in both Hebrew and Arabic.
We will keep thinking about venues to display the piece. It will be a traveling exhibition and can be constructed by Paul to be very accommodating to travel. Women’s Museum of Art, DCJCC, Rockville Court House, Strathmore, and the World Bank are all possible venues. Once the piece is more established, we can begin to approach the venues. “Build it and they will come” -hopefully.
We had a wonderful food break, which included a homemade Halva prepared by Shela, homemade cheese bread by Amna, bagels courtesy of Marsha, and tea. Our next meeting will be Sunday April 19th. Once again, the time flew by and we're looking forward to the next meeting to continue the lively and exciting discussion.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Form, Function and Food

The group got together again on Sunday, January 11, 2009. Some of us brought in traditional foods to share, and in breaking bread together, it seemed that we turned a corner from being cautious participants to becoming a cohesive group. It was very clear that we enjoy each other's company and spending time together, and friendships are beginning to form. With the news being what it is in Israel and Gaza, it is wonderful to be part of a group that goes beyond "us" and "them." We began the meeting with a prayer for peace. Then we moved on to talking about the project. In the previous meeting and through follow up emailing, we discussed the themes and content and there were a lot of WORDS. We decided that we needed to start putting a form and structure into the mix. The creativity was flying as we commented on a sketch that Nabila drew before the meeting. In the course of the discussion, what emerged is a 7 panel structure that will be experienced and walked through. It will be in the overall shape of an arch along the top. Each panel will have a number of sides totalling up to 18. The form will allow for figurative and literal different points of view. Some of the panels will show Jewish themes, some will show Muslim themes and some will be a combination, with the center panel being a full inteweaving of both. For the next session, Paul will create a white model of what we discussed and all the artists will bring in sketches for different panels. We all realized we need the visuals to help keep the process going. We were all sorry when the meeting came to an end and look forward to our next session on February 22nd.