Madison Jewish Artists’ Laboratory Seeks Participants for new Initiative

3 Oct

For many Jews, the arts can serve as a common denominator regardless of their degree of belief, cultural literacy, or religious affiliation. The UW-Madison Hillel at the Barbara Hochberg Center for Jewish Student Life, The Conney Project on Jewish Arts (an initiative of the Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin), The Sabes JCC of Minneapolis, and The Harry & Rose Samson Jewish Community Center in Milwaukee, are collaborating on a new initiative to assist Jewish artists and the regional Jewish community in finding meaning, community, identity, and spirituality through the arts thanks to the support of the Covenant Foundation. During the 2013-2014 program year, this project will take place in Madison, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis.

The Regional Artists’ Laboratory seeks to enrich two populations in our region: artists who may or may not already be drawn to art as an expression of their Jewish identity, and the Jewish public at large. We seek to create two interrelated programs: 1) An Artists’ Laboratory in which artists will combine the study of Jewish texts, both traditional and non-traditional, with their own creation of works of art that intersect with those texts; and 2) An Artists-in-Residence program for emerging artists that will interact with both the Laboratory and the Jewish community. Both aspects of the program will connect with an annual exhibit/showcase for the artists’ work. In all cases, we will seek artists from across disciplines, including visual art, theater, music, dance, literature, and beyond.

The Program in Madison

The project is intended to bring together local artists in all media to engage in conversations about contemporary art practice and to study both traditional Jewish texts and modern non-religious texts. Participants will consider and discuss what it means to be an artist who is Jewish and/or a Jewish artist, and will create work relating to a central theme in order to elevate the understanding of both art and Judaism.

The Laboratory will meet twice monthly at UW Hillel, Barbara Hochberg Center for Jewish Student Life, beginning in October 2013 and ending in May 2014. Each two-hour session will engage the artists in an exploration of the Jewish experience, and will serve as a forum for their own work. Participants in the lab will be able to showcase their work in a lab show built around our theme light and based on projects they work on independently during the year. The spring exhibit/showcase will open on Thursday, May 1, 2014.

Session dates are as follows. All sessions are on Thursdays from 6-8PM.

October 24
November 7,21
December 5
January 23, 30
February 6,20
March 6, 27
April 3, 24, Artists Retreat TBD

The Theme

The theme for the 2013-2014 program for all three locations is: Light.

In discussions facilitated by Rabbi Andrea Steinberger and Associate Curator at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Leah Kolb, participants will consider how the intersections of Jewish life and the arts advance new understandings of the culture of Jewishness; help to uncover new hybrid identities; and simultaneously solidify traditional ideas of Jewish practice. A central goal of our project will be to make our discussions relevant to the broadest possible community.

The Facilitators

Leah Kolb is the associate curator at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. She received a BA in history, and a master’s degree in archival studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has worked on numerous curatorial projects and organized several exhibitions, some recent favorites include: I Dream Too Much: Paintings by Leslie Smith III, Structural Films, and Cecelia Condit: Within a Stone’s Throw. Leah is thrilled to be a part of the Jewish Artists Laboratory and looks forward to combining her enthusiasm for art and art history with her love of all things Jewish.

Andrea Steinberger has served as the rabbi at the Hillel at the University of Wisconsin, Madison at the Barbara Hochberg Center for Jewish Student Life since 1999. She received a BA in Psychology from Northwestern University and a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters and rabbinical ordination from the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. She works with UW students through teaching, holiday programming, alternative break programs and trips, and one-on-one conversations. She participates in regular dialogue, projects and programs in the Madison Jewish community and at state-wide events in the larger community.


The program includes artists’ residencies for emerging artists in any medium. The Residency Program will provide a $1,000 stipend for two artists who will participate in the Laboratory and who will contribute, through their art, to the Madison Jewish community. For an application for this program, contact Jennifer Jennings (see below).


For more information and to apply to the Madison Jewish Artists’ Laboratory, contact Jennifer Jennings at [email protected] or (608) 256-8361 ext. 702. Or visit us online at

Each applicant will participate in a short phone conversation regarding the Artists’ Laboratory upon receipt of their application.

Apply online here:

Applications are due by Thursday, October 10, 2013. A $36 course fee is required, for UW Students, the fee is $18. Subsidies are available upon request.

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