Art/Lab is a 9-month creative laboratory for Portland area contemporary Jewish artists working in a variety of media. The laboratory enables a cohort of artists to explore the intersection of Judaism, creative expression and contemporary culture in order to inspire new works while redefining what Jewish art and culture can be. Read about the artists from our past cohorts here
Art/Lab’s 2023-2024 theme is מַתָנָה / matanah / “gift.”
Gift culture was practiced throughout ancient Jewish life. Demonstrations of gift economy found in Jewish texts lend themselves to critical dialogue and contemplation in today’s complex world. We will use the theme of “gift” as a foundation for engaging with Jewish texts, and for dialogue with thought leaders, activists and local culture bearers.
View the 2023 Art/Lab exhibition set up
Film by Michael Turner
Our Current Cohort
Brontë Grimm is an award-winning and internationally exhibited multimedia photographer, multidisciplinary artist, filmmaker, and Jewish queer trans disability activist whose artwork focuses on initiating a dialogue about issues facing the disabled via a Jewish and queer lens. They were the recent subject of the short documentary “Kathryne: Uncensored” where they discussed accessibility in the arts, and their artwork has been published in various literary journals and art magazines. Brontë’s activist work has led to numerous lectures and presentations on disability rights and issues facing the disability community, including ableism in media narratives and representation. They formerly sat on the board of the Kansas Disability Caucus and on the Expressions curatorial and organizing committee through The Whole Person as their Disabled Artist Representative. Brontë’s current activism and art focus is breaking down the barriers of how disabled bodies are viewed in contemporary art and in society, bringing awareness to the lack of accessibility within the American arts scene, and discussing the intersection of Domestic Violence, Disability, and Queerness.
Merridawn Duckler is a writer and visual artist from Oregon author of INTERSTATE (dancing girl press) IDIOM (Harbor Review) MISSPENT YOUTH (rinky dink press) IT’S A WONDER (Southern Most Journal.) Myer and Anna Wolf Prize for academic excellence, Hebrew College. Beulah Rose poetry prize Smartish Pace, CNF prize Invisible City, Elizabeth Sloane Tyler Memorial Award Woven Tale Press, Drama prize, Arts and Letters Georgia and Jewish in Seattle Fiction prize. She’s an associate editor at Narrative and the international philosophy journal Evental Aesthetics and a member of Blackfish Gallery in Portland, Oregon.
Ketzia Schoneberg is a contemporary American artist whose mixed media paintings, drawings and sculpture are exhibited nationally in galleries and museums. Her feminist autobiographical works combine elements culled from her active dream life, longstanding meditation practice, personal unconscious, cultural background and affinity with wildlife and environmental concerns, to create an esoteric interplay of characters. Using figurative and abstract elements, she investigates movement-based plays of power, the erotic, and sensuality with vivid color and loose mark making. The artist uses acrylic, graphite, pastel, wax crayon, grease pencil, charcoal, and ceramics in her studio practice, and she is also a classical violinist. A fourth-generation artist, Schoneberg was born in Los Angeles, grew up in San Francisco and is currently living and working in the Pacific Northwest.
Eve Bernfeld is a writer, theatre artist, teacher and mother living in Portland, Oregon. She holds an MFA in Applied Theatre and is an AmSAT certified Alexander Technique teacher. Her work has been published in Howlround Theatre Commons, AmSAT Journal, Northern Lights and more. She has won awards from Mouritz Press and the American Alliance for Theatre in Education. Her plays have been produced by Riot Act, Off Square Theatre and Chapel Theatre Company.
Nikki Schulak is a preschool teacher in Portland, OR. She is sometimes called “the real Ms Frizzle” because her bearded dragon, Stripey, is her constant companion. Her work has been published in Creative Nonfiction Magazine and on-line at Full Grown People. Her essay “On Not Seeing Whales” (Bellevue Literary Review) was chosen as a Notable Selection in Best American Essays 2013. She has an M.S. in Museum Education from the Bank Street College of Education. She often writes about bodies.
Ari Dinero is an interdisciplinary artist from Philadelphia, PA working mainly in acrylic painting, hand-embroidery, and digital and traditional collage. They use a unique editorial voice informed by a history spent on both coasts and abroad to imbue their work with an irreverent satirical tone that aims to speak truth to power. Their work thrives at the nexus of word and image, often featuring wordplay and visual and verbal puns. As a religious Jew and a genderqueer individual, they exemplify living in multiple civilizations simultaneously, and their multi-pronged approach to artmaking is a direct reflection of that.
Portland-based painter, Tia Factor, is concerned with the emotional connections between the physical environment and human beings, often incorporating the social element of interviewing others as the jumping-off place for her process. Her work has appeared in exhibitions from Oregon to Denmark, Chicago to Tasmania, and appeared in a variety of arts publications such as the Buckman Journal, Radar Poetry, The Semi-Finalist, Eleven PDX Magazine, art ltd., and New American Painters. She is a recipient of a Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC) Professional Development Grant and was an artist in residence through Arts Tasmania and the Vermont Studio Center. Factor is a longtime arts educator who has taught in diverse communities at public research universities, private art colleges, community colleges, a boarding art high school and public high schools; she is the director of a study abroad program leading students to Berlin and an active member of WAVE Contemporary. Her work can be found in the collections of the City of Seattle and the City of Portland’s Portable Works collections and at tiafactor.com. @tiafactor
Daniel Isaiah Elder (he/they) is a 2018 Lambda Literary Emerging LGBTQ Writer, and the Navigator for Lidia Yuknavitch’s Corporeal Writing. His work appears in X-Ray Lit, The Rumpus, Pidgeonholes, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, and many more. He loves his cat, Terence.
Holly Goodman is a writer, journalist, teacher and mother. Her stories and essays have appeared in Nailed Magazine, Literary Mama, Your Tango, The Frozen Moment: Contemporary Writers on the Choices That Change Our Lives, and Ohio State University’s literary magazine The Journal, where her short piece Fresh Water was the 2007 Alumni Flash Fiction winner. She has contributed to newspapers and magazines as a staff reporter and freelancer since 1993, beginning as a city desk reporter at the Columbus (OH) Dispatch. She works with young writers at the residential arts camp, Young, Musicians and Writers, where she is the Creative Writing Director. She is a part of Portland’s Dangerous Writing community, where she studied with novelist Tom Spanbauer, and holds a BA in Journalism for The Ohio State University. She’s slowly finishing her first novel.
Past Participating Artists
Michelle Alany www.michellealany.com
Zac Banik www.zacbanik.com
Justin Carroll Jude www.justinjudecarroll.com
Rebecca Clarren www.rebecca-clarren.com
Ora Fruchter www.orafruchter.com
Leanne Grabel www.leannegrabel.com
Jennifer Gwirtz www.jennifergwirtz.org
Amy Havin Leona ww.amyleonahavin.com
Artists (L to R): Helen Hunter, Leanne Grabel, Michelle Alany, and Ora Fruchter
"Only way it could be better is if there was more of it."
"Art/Lab and my pride in my Judaism is now coming to full fruition in dazzling new ways. I'm beyond grateful to both of you. I have tears in my eyes for how appreciative I am."
"This was without a doubt the most impactful Jewish experience of my life."
"I really appreciate that you both were so thoughtful coming into the year, learning from last year and continuing to shape the program."
"In conclusion, you have created something wonderful! I know it is still finding its shape, but it is already a safe and warm space for creation, learning and community. Thank you!
"The text study was nourishing and inspiring, and the one-on-one mentoring from Shoshana was invaluable -- it impacted and shaped my work. I don't think I could have been or felt connected to the art being created here in Portland, and the Jewish art in particular, without having been a part of Art/Lab. I feel really lucky to have been included, and I think the city really needs this program"- Sonya Sanford (sonyasanford.com)
"This program was a real accelerator for me as an artist and came at a wonderful time in my development. Truly grateful for the launch into broader connection with other artists and the public, as well as a deeper connection to my process." - Justin Carroll (justinjudecarroll.com)
"Being part of the first ArtLab cohort was a bit like meeting close family I had never met before. It helped me to better understand what I do and gave me a context for it. It was a wonderful experience."
- Jennifer Gwirtz (jennifergwirtz.org)
Our Art/Lab Director
Shoshana Gugenheim Kedem is the Director of Art/Lab. She is an American/Israeli interdisciplinary artist, Torah scribe, curator and chutzpanit. Shoshana’s work dismantles patriarchy in Jewish and other spaces, redistributes agency to the public domain and centers the female voice through the sacred and the mundane. Institutional critique and publicly generated solutions provide an avenue for the new imaginary in her socially engaged works.
Shoshana was one of the first women in modern times to train and practice as a Torah scribe. Her scribal work inspired her international collaboration, Women of the Book, launched with the Jerusalem Biennale 2015 and acquired by the Yale University Arts Library Collection. Today her work as a scribe manifests through her ongoing project, Or Hadash |עור חדש, an art intervention in the parchment making industry turning the current practice away from industrial agriculture and re-turning it to the land, the people and the animals they tend. Shoshana is the founding Artist and Co-Director of the Greensboro Contemporary Jewish Museum in Greensboro, NC and of The Gugenheim Portland situated in her family residence in their NE Portland, OR neighborhood where she lives with her partner and children and their three chickens, two rabbits and rescue dog. Shoshana speaks, teaches and consults internationally. www.shoshanagugenheim.com
We are proud to be partnering with the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education (OJMCHE). In addition to hosting Art/Lab for cohort gatherings during the year, OJMCHE offers a special tour of their exhibitions to the artists and will be highlight the work of Art/Lab artists in their social media communications. Art/Lab thanks the Museum staff for their support of Art/Lab and their investment in Oregon’s emerging contemporary Jewish artists.
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