Oregon prof inspires, inspired in Jerusalem
By DEBORAH MOON
article created on: 2010-07-01T00:00:00
Oregon State University art professor Shelley Jordon is spending a month in Jerusalem as part of a pilot program designed to inspire participating artists with that city’s culture while they leave their own mark on the ancient city.
Mishkenot Sha’ananim, a cultural center, and the Foundation for Jewish Culture created the institute at Mishkenot. Distinguished artists and scholars arrived June 11 to spend a month in residence at Mishkenot for this pilot program.
An email from Mishkenot noted that during the month-long residency, the visiting artists “will engage in creative work, and conduct lectures, workshops, performances and meetings with the public and with focus groups, thus absorbing the atmosphere of Jerusalem and forming ties with its cultural institutions.”
Jordon’s exhibition “Flying/Falling” opened at Mishkenot on June 14 at a reception to introduce the fellows. In an email interview, Jordon said the opening reception was well attended and very exciting.
Jordon, a professor in the Department of Art at OSU, is one of five artists and scholars nationally selected for the Jersualem Cultural Fellowship by the Foundation for Jewish Culture.
Other artists and scholars in residence include Jonathan Safran Foer, author of “Everything is Illuminated,” which was declared a “work of genius” by the New York Times; author Nicole Krauss, known for “The History of Love”; dancer and choreographer Reggie Wilson; and New York urban planner Joshua Sirefman, known for his work on revitalization plans for downtown Brooklyn, lower Manhattan and Coney Island.
“This experience has been great and I feel very fortunate to be a part of this cohort,” Jordon said via email. “I’m with a group of smart interesting people and there is always stimulating dialogue. Jerusalem is a complicated but fascinating city. We are kept very busy with cultural exchanges and tours. I have met many people, including: artists, curators, art historians and students. I am very impressed with the Israelis, who I find to be well-informed, friendly and passionate about what they do.”
A native of Brooklyn and resident of Portland, Jordon has taught at OSU since 1986. She received a 2010 Oregon Arts Commission Individual Fellowship Award and a Fulbright-Hayes Group travel research grant to Yemen and Tunisia. Originally known for her still life paintings, in recent years Jordon has turned to animated paintings and animated installation work.
An OSU press release noted that Jordon had already received an OSU Library Research Award and an Oregon Arts Commission Individual Fellowship Award to travel to Berlin at the beginning of June to begin research for a new project tentatively called “Anita’s Journey.” The hand-painted animation will explore the experiences of her mother-in-law, Anita Greenstein, in hiding from the Nazis in Berlin during World War II.
Jordon spent 10 days in Berlin working on the project before arriving in Jerusalem June 11.
“The fellowship ends July 8, but my family will join me at the end of June and we will stay and travel a bit here in Israel till July 11, then back to Oregon,” said Jordon. “I am looking forward to beginning work on my Berlin project and to see how the Israel experience inspires me.”
The Oregon Jewish Museum nominated Jordon for the Jerusalem residency program. The OJM had shown her animation painting “Family History.” “Family History” won the Judge’s Award at the 36th annual Northwest Film Festival from Los Angeles Times film critic Ken Turan and has been screened at film festivals around the world.
“This is an amazing opportunity as an artist and an American to experience first-hand the rich history and culture of Jerusalem,” Jordon said.
This year’s program is an expansion of a tradition that began in 1973 when the Mishkenot Sha’ananim Guest House for writers, artists and scholars was opened by Mayor Teddy Kollek and the Jerusalem Foundation.
“This year, we are attempting to intensify the involvement and activity of artists and have thus decided to host an entire group rather than individuals,” said Mishkenot Sha’ananim Director-General Uri Dromi. “We seek to create a critical mass and action dynamics that will intensify leading artists’ knowledge of the city’s cultural activities and perhaps even bring about international cooperation with the artists they met and worked with during their stay.”
NFJC Executive Director Elise Bernhardt notes, “The model we perceive is that of the glorious American academies in Rome and Berlin, that succeeded in producing generations of artists and scholars who were influenced by the culture of those cities and in turn left their own mark on them.”