I was one of five New Yorkers represented in the exhibit, and it seemed the only one who headed to Chicago on this infamous weekend for the opening. While my work typically centers around Judaic or mystical themes, I feel a certain ownership because, as a New Yorker, I have a unique license to reflect on this otherwise universal tragedy in a deeper, and more visceral way than most. It is important, and gratifying, that my approach continues to feel relevant with the hindsight of the last three years and the most recent implications and controversy surrounding our current administration.
There's clearly something therapeutic about making art that comments on the way we wrestle with the world and our desire to change it. Creating protest art is my contribution to a larger cause. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, an activist and community leader, used his feet to pray when he walked with Martin Luther King, Jr. As an artist, I use color and form on my singular journey to mark my personal and public commitments. The aesthetic has its own impact: take Fahrenheit 9/11, the wares of the axis-of-eve ( www.axisofeve.org), or the banner that was unfurled at the Plaza Hotel in New York City during the Republican National Convention. The banner, for example, showed two arrows pointing opposite directions: pointing right, it read, "truth," and pointing left, "Bush." At last count, over 3,000 people have been through the "Art at War" exhibit, and perhaps some of them were moved and touched by one of the works, or impressed by the sheer volume of expression.
I returned to New York City on the 11th feeling renewed. In part it was because I was returning from an event that felt more like a tribal council condemning war and affirming life than a typical art-show opening. And I had done my part, along with the other artists, in recovering, reinterpreting, and revealing our experience of the dark side of human existence. In part it was because I perceived my act of flying on 9/11/04 as an extension of my art. It was a "performance" -- flying home to New York City on a plane full of diverse people on a day marking one of our country's greatest tragedies, carried out right here, with a plane just like this one. As I looked north from the plane to my great city and its gateway of light, I felt scars healing. The next performance will be in November, when we can hopefully change the course of the journey we've been on since that earlier September day.
The ambiguities of art and life
Why Black Rock City matters
If the desert feeds the spirit, and Paris delights the senses, what does
If the desert feeds the spirit, and Paris delights the senses, what does McDonald's do? May, 2002
Empowering Jewish Progressives
Deconstructing Zell Miller (and Reconstructing Kerry)
A Demonstration in Words
Where Left and Right Collide
Art at War
Jews and Bush
An Online Resource Guide
Belly of the Beast
Our 550 Back Pages
Zeek in Print
Spring/Summer 2004 issue now on sale!
From previous issues:
Carrying Light into Dark Times
What's your point?
On Being a Leftist and a Zionist