Creative Catalyst Symposium for Socially Engaged Jewish Art

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Date: November 01, 2015 — November 08, 2015
Categories: Conferences & Lectures
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Sunday, November 8th, 2015
9:30AM – 4:30PM
Manny Cantor Center, NYC (
197 East Broadway, New York, 10002)


Creative Catalyst is a 1-day conference and platform to support socially engaged Jewish art that highlights the work of trans-disciplinary artists, curators, activists, community leaders, and organizations.

The event’s goal is to create dialogue around socially engaged Jewish art, the structures and networks of support for artists working within social issues.

Art Kibbutz, co-sponsored by Hazon, The Manny Cantor Center, The Jewish Daily Forward, UJA Federation of New York, and Jewish Art Salon, Americans for the Arts, is initiating an exchange between artists and community activists to further tikkun olam. Artists and creatives have untapped potential to help facilitate social change in America and worldwide. Today, more than ever before, societal changes take place on the level of discourse – at the terrain of signs and symbols, story and spectacle. Visionary artist activists have the potential to broaden the Jewish social justice and environmental movement’s base of appeal and the reach of their message by employing culture and artistic expression alongside more traditional organizing practices.

Artists and creatives are at the forefront of communicating change.  The symposium intends to provide a Jewish context for their work, and help break the isolation that so often divides artists from the rest of the community. Sessions will provide artists, activists, and community organizers with practical tools as well as context.

The practice of socially engaged art has much in common with community organizing. Indeed, relationship building is at the crux of most projects’ success. How is it productively done? The Socially Engaged Artist Residency is designed to serve artists working in leadership roles and in partnership with communities, in ways that are relevant in everyday life, at ambitious scale, to enact change. Art Kibbutz, Jewish artist colony, whose core mission is to protect artists from external demands (so that they can accomplish their work and connect Jewishly) also is at the same time a full participant in the local NYC and the broader, international Jewish community.

Where and how can art and community come together in a way that makes for excellent art and meaningful community benefit? Join us for a conversation where we’ll explore these questions together and think on effective practices for the future.

The event is dedicated to the memory of Jackie Brookner (1945 – 2015), a pioneering ecological artist, designer, writer and Harvard University and New School faculty member. She was part of the Art Kibbutz community and is remembered for her passionate work with ecologists, design professionals, and communities on water remediation/landscape. She was able to bridge the gap between local communities, environmental activists and artists and inspire them to work together.

Held in conjunction with Art Kibbutz’s current exhibition at The Manny Cantor Center, Rooted: The Ecological Duality of Nature and Jewish Identity, this symposium will bring together contemporary artists, curators, writers to discuss socially engaged art practices with Jewish non-profits, community organizers, environmental activists and organizations working on the field of Jewish social justice.


Speakers include:

  • Terry Iacuzzo – Jackie Brookner’s widow and Amy Lipton introducing her legacy;
  • Legendary artists Helene Aylon and Jackie Brookner (film) on producing large-scale eco and feminist art projects from Boro Park to the United Nations;
  • Curators Amy Lipton (EcoArtSpace) and Ayelet Aldouby (Residency Unlimited, IDEASxLAB, Artea Projects), Tania Bruguera (NYC Dept of Cultural Affairs and Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs), and Patricia Eszter Margit (Art Kibbutz) on the nature and forms of socially engaged art. The role of artists, artist residency programs, artist communities, curators, the City, and other change agents;
  • Madeleine Calabrese… from a funder’s point-of-view on the Voices & Visions program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation elicits the power of art to communicate great Jewish ideas.
  • Dan Sieradski on Occupying Judaism: Jewish values, art, ethics, aesthetics, and activism in relation to Occupy Wall Street.
  • Artists Susan Hoffman Fishman and Elena Kalman on how to successfully engage all sorts of communities, participants and actors;
  • Coach James Moche on how to create a Socially Engaged Artist Residency that is designed to serve artists working in leadership roles and in partnership with communities, in ways that are relevant in everyday life, at ambitious scale, to enact change – yet provide a protected space for artists from external demands.

The Symposium is accompanying ‘Rooted: The Ecological Duality of Nature and Jewish Identity – Art Kibbutz’s exhibition at the Jewish Communal Fund and Ernest Rubenstein Galleries of the Manny Cantor Center that continues through December 1st . There will be an organized tour with curator Aimee Rubensteen at 1.30pm.