Putting Jerusalem on the cultural map

Four artists participate in local effort to highlight the Holy City as an international destination for art and culture.

Grand Cafe in Jerusalem (photo credit: Courtesy)
Grand Cafe in Jerusalem
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The 2013 season of the American Academy in Jerusalem opened last week with the participation of four leading artists. The four, representing various creative disciplines, will spend 10 weeks in Jerusalem sharing their talents and collaborating with local peers in an effort to encourage cultural interchange between the US and Israel.
The program, established by the New York-based Foundation for Jewish Culture, is described by organizers as part of a larger effort to highlight Jerusalem as a dynamic global destination for art and culture.
The new class of fellows includes documentary filmmaker Susan Korda, multidisciplinary artist Dean Moss, visual artist Dianne Samuels and architect Davidson Norris.
Elise Bernhardt, president and CEO of the FJC, came to Jerusalem for the program’s opening week and noted that the effects of the program last long after the artists return home from Israel.
“This fellowship fosters the development of four extraordinarily talented cultural ambassadors who pursue their work individually in the creative environments of Jerusalem,” she said. “The objective is to enable these fellows to offer a direct contribution that will permanently benefit Jerusalem’s future as a more pluralistic and sustainable city.”
Architect Norris is principal at the New York-based Carpenter Norris Consulting (CNC), which specializes in the use of day-lighting for internal design. His firm was retained by the designers of the newly renovated Israel Museum and was largely responsible for many of the day-lighting aspects of the new facility.
Despite his role in overseeing the project and developing many of its core elements, he managed the project from afar and this week welcomed the chance to see the results of his work firsthand during an emotional visit to the museum.
Upon entry into the distinctive “Route of Passage” which serves as the entrance to the new exhibits and is defined by his design of glass panels utilizing Jerusalem’s bright sunlight, Norris was clearly pleased with the results.
“What was between my ears in envisioning how this project would look is very much what my eyes are seeing here today,” he said.
Norris, who was chosen as the Roselyne Chroman Swig Architecture Fellow, intends to use his time in Israel to identify 10 sites that distinctly use the city’s exposure to natural light, knowledge which he hopes to incorporate into future design projects.
Filmmaker Korda, who has contributed to numerous award-winning projects, will be exploring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through various crossroads between the two peoples and will be gathering elements for a documentary film on the topic.
Visual-based artist Samuels will be observing public spaces and conversations with Jerusalemites to develop a creative map of her explorations.
Moss, who has directed and choreographed performances around the world, will explore the spiritual connection between modern-day Jerusalem and the Ethiopian holy city of Lalibela, which is known by many Ethiopians as “New Jerusalem.”
Over the course of the 10- week program, the fellows will interact with local cultural and academic institutions while teaching and mentoring students as well as building working relationships with professional peers.