Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Student papercutting workshops

Every summer I spend two weeks at URJ Camp Newman as an artist-in-residence, teaching papercutting to high school-age campers. Their program is called Hagigah, and it's focused on expressing Judaism through the arts – so they paint, they sculpt, they dance and sing and write... in addition to everything else you'd expect at Jewish sleepaway camp.

This has been my seventh summer at Camp Newman, and I had two great groups of campers to work with: two hours each day with the yetzirah group, and one hour each day with the hizdamnut group. It was a pleasure to share with them the joy of working in paper and creating art.

Each of the campers in both groups made a mizrach (מזרח means "east"). East is the direction that Jews outside of Israel traditionally face during prayer, and a mizrach is an ornamental wall plaque used to indicate the direction of prayer – and that's what the students made, after some group brainstorming about what imagery might work in such an artwork. They were allowed to interpret the idea of a mizrach however they wanted.

All of the campers in the yetzirah group (and many in the hizdamnut group, time permitting) also made "paper midrash" – they used their newly-developed papercutting skills to tell a story from the Tanakh (Torah, prophets, and writings) or midrash, picking a story or theme that was personally meaningful and interpreting it in this medium.

The final project we all worked on was a group effort... details to come.

Later this week I'll share photos of the art they produced, but for now please enjoy these photos of the campers at work.

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