Tuesday, November 24, 2015

KCET Artbound profile: "Classic Comix and the Art of Modern Judaism"

I'm pleased to post a link to a new review of my work by Shana Nys Dambrot on KCET Artbound.

Ms. Dambrot visited my current show, "Women of Valor and Other Super Heroes," at National Council of Jewish Women / Los Angeles and spoke to me about my work, my influences, and my inspiration.
"Bridging youth and popular culture with a thoughtful conversation on the lessons of the sacred Jewish texts may seem like a daunting task. In fact, it is a job for Superman."
"Brynjegard-Bialik brings these different types of stories together in the complex but clean layers of his papercuts, creating new meanings for the world's oldest stories as he engineers these combinations with the architectural presence of stained glass, the whimsy of gilded-age fairy tales, and the meditative aura of illuminated manuscripts."
The show is only open for a few more days – contact Carrie Jacoves at 323-852-8512 or carrie@ncjwla.org to find out when you can see it.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

"Breathe Free" and the Syrian Refugee Crisis

It hurts me to hear people like House Speaker Paul Ryan say we should close our doors – whether he says it's a "pause" or whatever. We have a welcome sign at the border, on a statue given to us by France, and it contains America's core value: we welcome the tired and weary – the refugees who seek freedom and safety. Don't turn them away! They are us!

"Breathe Free" (shown above) is a new papercut in my exhibition, "Women of Valor and Other Super Heroes," now showing at National Council of Jewish Women / Los Angeles through November 30, 2015. This was inspired by my wife's Rosh HaShanah sermon about the Syrian refugee crisis.

The original Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers, has recently “passed the torch” to a young Muslim immigrant from Pakistan. Both dedicate themselves to the ideas of peace and freedom, and the message carved in stone at the foot of the Statue of Liberty — words written by the Jewish poet, Emma Lazarus. This papercut explores the idea of America as a nation of immigrants, with a changing demographic of people all committed to the same ideals: refuge and liberty for all.

This papercut, like all of my work, is made with cut-up comic books, including:
  • Avengers [Free Comic Book Day] #1 (Jun 2015)
  • Captain Marvel #1 (Nov 2015)
  • Ms. Marvel #15 (Mar 1978)
  • Ms. Marvel #1 (Oct 2014)
The original is already sold, but you can buy an archival giclée print at my store site.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

To Boldly Go: William Shatner (and me) in Portland

Presenting "To Boldly Go" to William Shatner.

I still can't quite believe it. This photo? It's me and William Shatner. With a papercut I made for him. Seriously.

Deep breath.

Sorry – but I'm genuinely such a  huge fan of Star Trek and William Shatner, and this was a dream for me. I was given the opportunity to create a piece for William Shatner and present it to him on behalf of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland at their annual gala.

The complete papercut; click to enlarge. You can buy a print here.
The papercut is a representation of “Lech L’cha,” the Torah portion in which Abraham and Sarah are told by God to leave their home and travel to a new land: Canaan (Genesis/Bereshit 12:1–17:27). This desert journey is set against the backdrop of Vasquez Rocks, a California location familiar to viewers of Star Trek (and many other television shows and movies), and it’s made of cut-up Star Trek comics with a focus on Captain James Tiberius Kirk.

Details of a bit of an old chumash and the opening words from "Star Trek."

The papercut contains comic book quotes and speech bubbles related to the message of “Lech L’cha,” it is set against a star-filled background from those comics, and the background behind Abraham and Sarah’s caravan is made of a mosaic of appearances of Captain Kirk’s uniform shirt. And of course, the Federation Starship Enterprise is included as well.

The Federation Starship Enterprise, a travel-related quote, and Abraham and Sarah.

This is the chapter in our Torah when people are first cited as a source of blessing to others; we read that Abraham and Sarah are a source of blessing for all those they come in contact with. Similarly, William Shatner has used his talent and celebrity to share his blessings with others in various community and philanthropic pursuits.

It was such an immense pleasure to present it to him in front of the Portland Jewish Community – to share the meaning behind the piece and to hear him say that he liked it and would be putting it up in his home.

He had such kind words to share about my work.

When I had originally told my wife this might be happening, she told me that if I was meeting William Shatner, she was coming – and so were the kids. And they did! And he was so gracious; he spent some time with the family, asked each of the girls what they want to be when they grow up and offered them encouragement and suggestions. He knows how to talk to girls! And of course, we not only took an "official" photo with the art...

We are all freaking out! Except for Mr. Shatner.

We also took selfies with him in the green room!

Selfie with Mr. Shatner and my wife/muse Shawna.
This was an incredible experience – and one I owe to the fine folks at the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland (especially Event Coordinator Allison Specter and President Marc Blattner) and my buddy Barry Greenberg (of Celebrity Connection).

One last thing – the original papercut is going in William Shatner's house, but you can get an archival giclée print of your own, right here. I'll sign it and ship it to you in a fancy tube and everything.