Leading Israeli Artists are Coming to Campus

Idan Porges (top) performing at the Israel Museum
Idan Porges (top) performing at the Israel Museum

With the new academic year about to begin, nine leading Israeli artists will take up residency at colleges and universities across the U.S. through the Schusterman Visiting Israeli Artists program.

The Program, run under the auspices of the Israel Institute, has been bringing pieces of Israel’s vibrant art scene to new audiences for the past eight years – and this year promises to be as colorful and thought-provoking as ever.

The diverse incoming class includes two best-selling Israeli writers, whose works have been translated into more than a dozen languages; one of Israel’s leading composers; and other acclaimed and accomplished virtuosos of choreography, music, literature and the visual arts.

What’s more, their residencies are designed to be particularly dynamic: artists will spend either the Fall or Spring semester teaching and presenting their work to audiences in local communities through classes, exhibitions and performances.

Fall Semester

Nir Evron, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA. Evron’s video works and photographs are presented regularly in public venues around the globe, from the 19th Biennale of Sydney, Australia, to the Yebisu International Festival for Art and Alternative Visions, Tokyo, to Pulse Miami. This year his first American solo exhibition will open at the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU while Evron is in residence at the university.

Dror Mishani, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Best known for his mystery writing and as a scholar of detective fiction, he has taught Hebrew literature previously at Cambridge University, England. His most recent books, The Missing Fileand A Possibility of Violence, were published in English by HarperCollins and translated into 15 other languages. Some of his works are in various states of adaptation for film and television.

Oded Zehavi, Cleveland Institute of Music and Case Western Reserve University. Zehavi, a composer, will teach at both institutions and participate in the Violins of Hope, a major exhibit and series of concerts featuring violins restored from the Holocaust, which will be presented in Cleveland during the time of his residency. Zehavi has received commissions and performances from renowned conductors and musicians such as Zubin Mehta, Valery Gergiev and Shlomo Mintz. He has had premieres of orchestral and chamber music at Vienna’s Festspielhaus and Musikverein, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall and others.

Spring Semester

Yaniv Abraham and Guy Shomroni, University of Arizona, Tucson. Abraham and Shomroni will set works by Ohad Naharin, artistic director of the renowned Batsheva Dance Company, for students at this leading American university dance department. Abraham was a performer and soloist with Batsheva from 2003-11. A recipient of the Israel Ministry of Culture and Education Grant for Excellence and Achievement (1999-01), he performed at major dance venues around the world with Batsheva for many years.

Shomroni danced with Batsheva for more than 10 years and continues to work with Naharin on production. At the same time, based in Israel but teaching worldwide, he has become one of the premiere teachers of Gaga, the movement language developed by Naharin. Recently, he and Abraham have been choreographing together and their work has been performed in Israel and Russia.

Assaf Gavron, San Diego State University. Of Gavron’s sixth novel, The Hilltop, published this year in English, Amos Oz wrote the work “shimmers with wisdom, truth, humour and melancholy.” The New York Times called it “structurally brilliant.” One of Gavron’s novels was adapted for stage by Habima, Israel’s national theater and others have been optioned for film and television. His English to Hebrew translations of J.D. Salinger, Phillip Roth and Jonathan Safran Foer are highly regarded.

Bosmat Nossan, University of Michigan. Nossan was a dancer with Batsheva Dance Company and prior to that, a dancer with the Batsheva Ensemble and Inbal Pinto Theater Dance Company, another of Israel’s leading companies with which she toured internationally. A pre-eminent Gaga teacher for many years, Nossan’s own choreography has been presented at festivals throughout Israel and commissioned by the Kibbutz Dance Company, the other international touring company from Israel.

Zvi Sahar, University of Maryland. Zvi Sahar, whose “Salt of the Earth,” a presentation of puppetry and hand-painted miniature sets combined with live filmmaking and projected video feeds, was featured in the NextWave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Sahar will work with students to adapt an Israeli novel into a new work of puppet cinema.

Sharon Vazanna, Muhlenberg College, Pennsylvania. Vazanna is a dancer and choreographer. Her choreography has been performed in Germany, Israel, Italy, Spain and Sweden. As a dancer, she toured internationally with the Kibbutz Dance Company and the Idan Cohen Dance Company, Israel; and the Cullberg Ballet, Sweden; among others.

For more information, please visit the Israel Institute Website.