Thursday, July 26, 2012

Getting Ready for September Show

My next show opens Sunday, September 9, at the Osher Marin JCC in San Rafael, California — and I'm cutting and cutting and cutting these days, finishing up work. Here's a detail from a piece I just completed titled "Shamayim"; it'll be at the show, and I hope you will be as well.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Teaching Papercutting at Camp Newman, 2012 (Part 4)

This is the last post on my 2012 residency at URJ Camp Newman! The campers in the Hagigah yetzirah (major) had time for one last project — a group mezuzah, to which everyone would contribute. (A mezuzah is traditionally a small box attached to the inside of a doorway of one's house; ours, becing a papercut, will be placed next to a doorway at camp.) They took turns picking a spot on the oversized sheet of watercolor stock, drawing in a design (some chose to include parts of their mizrach or midrash projects, while others came up with new imagery to use), cutting it out, and backing it with colored papers and comics. In the center is a shin, behind which is the klaf text inside every mezuzah (paragraphs of the Shema and V'ahavta prayers).

Last, I am pleased to share another mezuzah — another group project, created on Faculty Art Night by the faculty and staff at camp while we were there (instituted by my wife, who was Faculty Dean this year for our session).

Rabbis, educators, medical staff, artists, spouses, and other camp adults contributed in the same way the campers did — but we did it all in a couple of hours one night after the campers went to bed. Here are some shots of the group at work...

...and voila — the final faculty/staff mezuzah!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Teaching Papercutting at Camp Newman, 2012 (Part 3)

Ah, the penultimate installment of my Camp Newman posts. Tonight is the annual "Mark and Peachy Levy Hagigah Arts Festival," which will feature works from all of the workshops the campers have been involved in for their four weeks at camp: painting, sculpture, street art, drama, songwriting, creative writing, papercutting (of course), and more.

I thought this was a good time, therefore, to share some shots from the  papercutting sessions. I'm not sharing as many out here this year; there are more on my Facebook site, for the campers and their friends to check out if they wish. But here are some, so you can see what we were doing for those two weeks.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Teaching Papercutting at Camp Newman, 2012 (Part 2)

The second project we worked on at Camp Newman this summer was "paper midrash" — the campers were to use their new papercutting skills to tell a story from our tradition.

I worked individually with each camper to find a story to which they felt a connection; related to their Hebrew name, or from their bar mitzvah portion, or just something personally meaningful. And then they got to work! All of the campers in the yetzirah group were able to complete a paper midrash piece. Since we had much less time, not everyone in the hizdamnut group was able to complete another piece.

The yetzirah group had one more project as well... coming up in part 3. For now, here are photos of the campers' paper midrash projects. (I supplied the titles based on the subject matter.)

The Spies

The Four Species

The Rose

To Grow

Day and Night

David and the Spider

The Rescue

In the Garden

I had one camper in Hagigah this summer who made a butterfly papercut, based on a design in a book of Chinese folk papercuts. She mounted the cut-out butterfly on a sheet of lavender paper, and called it done. Then her friend took the paper she'd cut the butterfly out of, and put some colored papers behind it — resulting in matching papercuts, one positive and one negative.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Teaching Papercutting at Camp Newman, 2012 (Part 1)

Every summer I spend two weeks at Camp Newman teaching papercutting to high school-age campers. They're in "Hagigah," a four-week session devoted to Judaism and the arts. The campers choose from a variety of "majors" (two hours a day) and "minors" (one hour a day) that either last two weeks or four weeks, getting to sample painting, drama, creative writing, dance, sculpture, and other art forms. Including, of course, papercutting.

 These two weeks are probably the hardest I work all year. For the other 50 weeks, I've got my job and my family and my papercutting (not necessarily in that order) and they keep me occupied and happy. And busy, for sure. But I think I'm good at all three, whereas teaching? Tenth graders? That's something that takes a lot out of me.

It's worth it. I get a real sense of accomplishment from seeing what the campers are capable of — kids who start out unsure about their talent, uneasy with the tools, and unconvinced they can make anything worth hanging in the end-of-session festival. They learn quickly that they are capable of making wonderful works of art, and are proud to show their friends what they've done — dragging in other campers to say, "look what I made!"

The first project we work on is a mizrach — an ornamental wall plaque used to indicate the direction of prayer (east) in Jewish homes. We make mizrachs in both the yetzirah (major) and the hizdamnut (minor) groups. We start off by brainstorming ideas for imagery and structure, and then the campers apply their developing cutting skills to making their individual project. For the backgrounds we used colored papers and bits and pieces of comic books, provided gratis by the wonderful folks at Brave New World Comics.

I'll be posting a "part 2" later this week with details about the "big" project — paper midrash.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Back from Camp Newman

I'm back from my two week's residency at URJ Camp Newman, where I've been leading papercutting workshops with high school kids as part of the Hagigah session, which is focused on the arts. I'll be posting details and photos soon, but here's a sneak peek at some details from the kids' work.