By James Russell
Special to the TJP
The usual takeaway from a Torah study is ethereal, ideally intellectual and spiritual enlightenment.
On Jan. 7 in Fort Worth, participants will take art home too. Through a Jewish Lens: A Day of Learning, Creation and Community is a new approach to Torah study sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County and the Texas Jewish Arts Association.
Participants, who must register by Dec. 29, can take classes in glass fusing, painting, mosaics, music composition and photography. Each artist is local and practices full-time. Studios are limited to 10 participants each.
The program has been years in the making, according to Angie Friedman, the program director at Federation who is spearheading the effort.
“I’ve wanted to do this for a few years. We just bit the bullet and said, ‘Let’s try it,’” Friedman said.
Participants will study text with local rabbis for the first hour.
At noon, participants then break out to one of the artist sessions. For the next two hours, they will respond to their studies with one of the artist facilitators.
Nan Phillips of Dallas is one of five participating artists. The fused and stained glass artist’s breakout session lets participants explore their readings in a hands-on way. It is just not purely an intellectual exercise toward spiritual growth. It’s an artistic exercise too, allowing people to interpret texts in new ways.
She is bringing a “baby kiln” for participants in her workshop, and some of her own work as well.
(She realizes some glass will not be ready in two hours and will fire the work for free and ship it.)
Other participating artists include Gloria Sepp, mosaic artist Marvin Beleck, violinist Sarah Price, who is leading a music composition class and photographer Jan Ayers Friedman. (She asks that participants bring a camera or smartphone.)
Participants do not just leave the daylong event full of wisdom but also with a piece of art, too.
The event fits with the TJAA’s mission of providing a network for Jewish artists. According to Phillips, the group, founded in 2013 and formalized in 2014, started with seven artists. The group’s membership now includes more than 100 artists. The event also fits the group’s mission of opening up opportunities for artists who are sometimes limited in participating in events. Gallery openings take place on a Friday evening or Saturday, which can be inconvenient for those who observe Shabbat.
“We needed something else,” Phillips said.
The approach for artists is different too.
The artists are not lecturing, Friedman said. They’re asking, “What do you want to make? How do I help you make it?” The day ends with a reception at the Center from 4 to 6 in the evening, where participants show their work.
The program may be new but it has generated substantial interest.
“There has already been a lot of interest. Some classes are almost full. But everyone is still welcome,” Friedman said.
Participants can sign up online at TarrantFederation.org/jewishlens, or by contacting Angie Friedman at 817-569-0892 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go …
Event: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with presentations from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 7, at the Scott Theater in the Fort Worth Community Arts Center, 1300 Gendy St., Fort Worth.