Fairfield University's Bennett Center for Judaic Studies presents the Samuel and Bettie Roberts Lecture in Jewish Art: "Confessions of a Practicing Jewish Artist"


Image: Melissa ShiffOn Thursday, April 23, Fairfield University's Carl and Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies presents the Samuel and Bettie Roberts Lecture in Jewish Art with Melissa Shiff, an artist who specializes in using Jewish myths, symbols and rituals in the service of social justice and activism. Shiff, an adjunct professor in the Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto, will deliver a talk entitled, "Confessions of a Practicing Jewish Artist."

The event is sponsored by the Samuel and Bettie Roberts Memorial Endowment Fund. Free and open to the public, it will take place at 8 p.m. in the Dolan School of Business Dining Room. Call the Bennett Center at (203) 254-4000, ext. 2066, to reserve a ticket.

Shiff is a video, performance, and installation artist. Through her work, she explores the relationship between religious ritual and performance art.  "In my talk, I will make the following confession: I do not make traditional Jewish art, rather I have been engaged in a Jewish artistic practice for the past eight years that has generated a body of work that reinterprets, challenges, and rejuvenates Jewish myths, symbols, and rituals with the ambition of making these themes meaningful and relevant to contemporary social issues."

Shiff will discuss three of her multimedia art projects: "Times Square Seder" (2002), "Postmodern Jewish Wedding" (2004) and "ARK" (2006). She'll also show how she applies post-modern ideas to her work as a practicing Jewish artist. "With 'Times Square Seder,' I mobilized art in service of activism using the ritual of the Jewish Passover Seder," Shiff said. "With 'Postmodern Jewish Wedding,' I reinvented the traditional Jewish wedding ritual using performance art and post-modern artistic strategies. With 'ARK,' I took the biblical story and figure of Noah's Ark as the basis for constructing a large-scale public art project."

A popular public lecturer, Shiff's work has been reviewed in both popular and scholarly journals dealing with art and culture, such as "Afterimage," "C Magazine," "Nashim," "The Jewish Quarterly," "Jewcy," and "Curator: The Museum Journal." She received her artistic training at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and Tufts University.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on April 15, 2009

Vol. 41, No. 304