From Asylum With Momentum
By Jonathan Rotsztain
Asylum Arts is a beautiful dream made real. Bringing multi-disciplinary artists from around the world together to discuss our practices and professions as well as skill-share, successfully aids artists in building solidarity, inspiring and supporting one another. Asylum creates a context for cross-pollination and collaboration. And the common denominator of a connection to Judaism highlights the unique position Jewish artists hold to create and shape Jewish identity.
I first attended the Asylum Arts Retreat in Garrison, NY in May 2015. The experience was transformative. I was introduced to talented artists and exposed to new modes of thinking, working and experiences of Judaism. In an idyllic setting along the shores of the Hudson River, I was inspired to build my personal and professional practice and further bring Jewish themes into my art practice.
With the generous support of an Asylum Arts grant along with the ROI Community, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Toronto and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland, Michael and I spent the last year collaborating on a comic book project. Featuring my artwork, Motherland tells Michael’s autobiographical story of confronting intergenerational trauma and reclaiming Jewish Poland. Our 20 page preview is now available in English and will debut in Polish at this year’s Jewish Culture Festival in Kraków.
So much has happened in the last year. Through Asylum, I’m now part of a large and growing network of global creatives. I am imbued with a deeper sense of and commitment to my Jewish identity. I am collaborating and making meaningful work about powerful Jewish subjects. Following this year’s Asylum reunion, I am more inspired than ever to tell Jewish stories through my art.
Jonathan Rotsztain is a writer, cartoonist and graphic designer in Toronto. Learn more at rotsztain.com