We all have walls
I wanna be one who causes them
Not by some great overwhelming
and immediate force"
A Jack Ballas poem on willful self-restraint, titled "Patience," helped inspire the newest exhibition at the Jewish Cultural Center.
And so did political upheavals, curator Ann Treadwell says of "Walls," on view through Oct. 27.
"The exhibit is meant to create conversation about the types of walls — physical, emotional and mental — that we put in place and how to deal with them on many levels," she says. "The initial concept came when I found [the] poem."
Treadwell says she began thinking about the concept of walls a year ago, "stirred by the talk of a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico and the conversations in Israel about who is able to go to the Kotel (the Western Wall)."
› What: “Walls” multimedia exhibition.
› When: Through Oct. 27 (gallery talks available by appointment).
› Where: Jewish Cultural Center, 5461 North Terrace.
› Admission: Free.
› Phone: 423-493-0270, ext. 13.
› Note: Gallery hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Fridays and by appointment. Hours may vary during Jewish High Holidays, specifically and Oct. 5-6, 12-13.
"Nonphysical walls between people seem to be re-emerging and include the wall dividing white extremists and African-American communities," she says, as well as Russia "moving us towards a Cold War."
The exhibit includes works by 10 local artists: Miki Boni, Anna Carll, deMichael, Tom Farnum, Jason Hullender, Howard Kaplan, Judy Mogul, Janis Rowland, Dana Shavin and Charlotte Smith. Regionally and nationally known artists include Harriet Goren, Cindy Lutz Kornet, Flora Rosefsky and fiber artists Laurie Wohl and Rachel Kanter.
For Shavin, the concept of "Walls" was more personal than topical. She contributed a photo transparency of several family members sprawled together for a portrait. She found her theme in a sentient painting on the wall behind them.
For her photo transparencies, Shavin prints an original photo on clear film, then lays it across a painted substrate and rephotographs it. The original portrait was taken decades ago at her sister's house, "and on the wall behind us is a disturbing painting of a face contorted in a scream," she explains.
"I was recovering from anorexia. My father had been diagnosed with cancer and would die three years later. My mother would be diagnosed with cancer nine months after his death, after which my sister would suffer two miscarriages. We were a deeply unhappy family whose struggles seemed to be both mirrored and foretold by the art on the wall."
Such background information can be found in the artist statements that accompany each piece.
Treadwell, the program director for the Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga, says she tracks the works of several artists included in the show and requests periodic updates on their latest projects. Some created new works especially for the show. Some were existing pieces. The only longevity requirement was that the works had not been included in a previous JCC show.
Treadwell says she has been especially captivated by contributions from Wohl and Carll, whose pieces "strike at the heart of the conversation I wanted the exhibit to create."
Gallery visitors, she says, "have been particularly interested in deMichael's 'Wall of Criminal Justice' on loan from the Hart Gallery and the photographs by retired architect Howard Kaplan."
Contact Lisa Denton at email@example.com or 423-757-6281.