Exhibit to showcase paints by special-needs artist Rami Zemah

Born in Israel in 1937 to an Iraqi family, Rami Zemah’s life always revolved around art.  A graduate of the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, Zemah was passionate about about art.

 Rami Zemah's paintings will be featured at the new "An Inclusive View" exhibition (photo credit: Courtesy)
Rami Zemah's paintings will be featured at the new "An Inclusive View" exhibition
(photo credit: Courtesy)

The organization, SHEKEL – Inclusion for People with Disabilities, is launching a festive opening event on December 1 for the art exhibition, “An Inclusive View,” which features paintings by Jerusalem artist, Rami Zemah, who passed away earlier this year. The event will take place at Heichal Hatarbut in Modi’in-Macabim-Reut, at 6:30 p.m. The public are welcome to attend free of charge. The exhibition will be on view until December 28. 

Born in Israel in 1937 to an Iraqi family of eight children, Rami Zemah’s life always revolved around art.  A graduate of the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, Zemah was passionate about painting.
While his paintings often feature beautiful landscapes and bright colors, he faced many challenges in life. For many years, he participated in SHEKEL’s art and social programs where he was able to develop his painting within a supportive framework. In an interview in 2016, Zemah explained: “I am in a SHEKEL art enrichment program which provides me with inspiration to paint and express myself artistically.” The artist also referred to the inspiration he received from exposure to artists through his work as a volunteer at the Israel Museum. “Since graduating Bezalel [Academy of Art] I have continued to paint and to work with art. I live and breathe art,” said Zemah. In 1996, the museum helped him to create an exhibition of his own works. Upon his death, artist Zemah bequeathed his paintings to SHEKEL and they will be on sale at the exhibition.
Looking at the collection of Zemah’s works, the exhibition’s curators, Gabi Yair and Ruthie Sagi, noted the variety of styles influencing his works, including Impressionism, Naïve Art, Symbolism and Abstract Expressionism. “Upon observing Rami Zemah’s creations, you immediately notice the artist’s love for life, [and how he] takes joy in the beauty of nature, scenery, the landscape and the plethora of color. This is a celebration of life, an expression of gratitude for life and all its abundance. His work is limitless, without minimalism or monochromatism,” they wrote in the exhibition catalog. “It is as if Zemah is conducting a philharmonic orchestra.”
Ada Oz, the manager of the exhibition, who worked with people with special needs for 42 years, said, “When he worked at the Israel Museum, Rami would study a painting in-depth and learn from it. . . Art solved the problems of life for him. SHEKEL’s programs let him do what he loved.”

 Rami Zemah's paintings will be featured at the new ''An Inclusive View'' exhibition (credit: Courtesy) Rami Zemah's paintings will be featured at the new ''An Inclusive View'' exhibition (credit: Courtesy)
SHEKEL CEO, Clara Feldman, feels the exhibition is significant. “You see here, how important it is to provide people with disabilities the support they need to realize their individual potential, how imperative it is to give them a chance to fulfill their personal dreams. It was a privilege to assist Rami in achieving his artistic ambitions.” 
SHEKEL is widely recognized as Israel’s leading organization for the inclusion of people with special needs within the general community. In addition to its popular cultural and leisure programs, SHEKEL programs include housing in the community, vocational rehabilitation and training, employment in the free market, therapeutic services, programs for children with special needs, and accessibility, assisting thousands of adults and children in Jerusalem and throughout the country. SHEKEL programs serve religious and secular Jews, Muslims and Christians alike, allowing them to take their place as a vital part of Israeli society. 
  Rami Zemah's paintings will be featured at the new ''An Inclusive View'' exhibition (credit: Courtesy) Rami Zemah's paintings will be featured at the new ''An Inclusive View'' exhibition (credit: Courtesy)

As part of its philosophy of inclusion, SHEKEL is known for forging partnerships with some of Israel’s leading cultural institutions, including a partnership with the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, where Bezalel students and artists with special needs work on joint art projects. Other partnerships include one of Israel’s top acting schools, the Nissan Nativ Acting Studio, which has partnered with SHEKEL to provide professional training in performing arts for people with disabilities. A unique partnership between SHEKEL and the prestigious Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, led to the formation of the Israel Integrative Orchestra, where academy students and musicians with special needs perform and create music together. 

Feldman said she believes it is time for a change in attitudes towards people with special needs. “Contrary to popular opinion, people with disabilities are not a weak sector of the community. They are often strong and have skills, aspirations and ambitions like everyone else. They just need to be given a chance.”