Art As A Graphic Transformation

courtesy Voices & Visions poster colelction
courtesy Voices & Visions poster collection

by Michael Feder

Joshua Ford’s editorial in eJewish Philanthropy (May 26) about the end of the Six Points Fellowship Program in New York points out that Jewish artists need to step out of their comfort zones to appeal to the new generation of art-appreciators, donors, and potential new fellowships if they want to see any type of support in the future.

We live in a time of instantaneous sharing, of do-it-yourselfers who are eager to show and talk about their work through new media, and are eager to find the right place to provide them with a forum of collaboration and discussion. Perhaps the burden is on us, the Jewish philanthropies, to build a better place for artists.

When I joined the Voices & Visions program at the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, we hoped to spark conversation around art, ideas, and Jewish identity by mailing thousands of our graphic art posters with quotes from great Jewish thinkers to Jewish cultural institutions, museums, day schools, synagogues, camps and community centers. Now, we are finding an even broader potential audience online. As Ford says, “The online world has broadened access to the world of art-making, and we need to find a way to harness that energy into effective and compelling projects of real artistic merit.”

We agree and see a future of camp leaders, teachers, and rabbis sharing how the posters have shaped their conversations on Jewish life by posting their thoughts, projects, photos, and impressions on our new website, on Facebook, and other social media as they gather and ponder the art and words. It is through the sharing of one’s unique voice and unique vision in harmony with the sharing of others’ that we as a people can reach a greater social cohesion.

Although Ford says recent studies find Jewish philanthropists are backing away from support for the arts, we are fostering a dialogue across new channels and mediums as we step into a world where fewer of us are embracing our Jewishness. “A community is too heavy to carry alone,” one of our Voices & Visions posters portends. It is through that lens that we seek to bring the larger Jewish village together.

Art is a graphic transformation. It is a growth from idea to image to creativity and imagination. We, as Jewish philanthropies and programs, as well as we as people, must learn to be like the art we appreciate and grow and change with the times.

Michael Feder is outreach partnership manager for the Voices & Visions program at the Harold Grinspoon Foundation.