(photo credit: Courtesy)
While an art teacher's merit is sometimes based on their students' work, two parallel exhibitions now on view in the towns of Ramle and Ofakim, shift the emphasis back to the teachers' personal practice, and showcase the personal work of 26 of Israel's most beloved and well known teachers and artists.
Without doubt, an art teacher who transforms the way a developing artist sees the world and approaches her craft makes a huge impact on the student's life and work. Yet most respected art teachers are professional artists themselves, who fell into the teaching profession as a reliable and fulfilling way to earn a stable income. In fact, many artists in Israel - at all stages of life and career are art teachers, so the exhibitions naturally include works by both young and well-established artists. The artworks themselves are also diverse, as each artist contributed two works in a wide range of media such as painting, sculpture, video and photography.
Teachers is part of an ongoing project "digging up what's beneath the surface" of Israeli society. Avshalom Suliman, the exhibition's organizer, is excited about exposing the sociological phenomenon of artists as teachers, and revealing the "undercurrents and functional structures of the Israeli art world" - such as how artists manage to earn a living here. To this end, in addition to the exhibitions, Suliman is also producing a documentary film featuring interviews with artist-teachers discussing their careers, what they learn from their students, and the intimate, symbiotic relationship between teaching art and producing art. Teachers of art certainly give to their students but it's fascinating to hear the emotional way artists discuss taking back from their students, and not least, the art teachers' passion for teaching.
In Ofakaim, the project will culminate with a symposium on March 20, and the premier of the documentary film. Famous Israeli artists and teachers from several disciplines will engage in panel discussions on the theme of "being an artist/ being a teacher" and the public is encouraged to attend.
The exhibitions will be open to the public throughout March in the New Horizons (Ofakim Hadashim) Gallery for Contemporary Art in Ofakim and the Ironi Ramle Gallery for Contemporary Art, 4 Zayit Street in Ramle. Ofakim exhibition hours: Sunday through Wednesday, 16:00 - 20:00. For information or to arrange a Friday viewing in Ofakim call Ran: 052-2551529. Ramle exhibition hours: Sunday, Monday and Thursday, 16:00-20:00. For information or to arrange a Friday viewing in Ramle call Avshalom: 052- 5546902.