Israel: 70 Years of Craft and Design
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MINGEI INTERNATIONAL MUSEUM
PLAZA DE PANAMA
1439 EL PRADO, SAN DIEGO, CA 92101
On view through September 3, 2018
Written by Cathy Breslaw
Marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of Israel, curator Smadar Samson provides viewers with the story of Israel with an exhibition of craft and design objects. The show includes over 125 objects, with a combination of works on loan from three museums, private collectors, and over 80 artists. The exhibit begins and ends with the theme of light, a major element in Israeli culture, from Hannukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights to Haskalah, a 19th century Jewish Enlightenment that focused on secular learning and modern philosophy. Reflecting the diversity of a population heavily influenced by European and Arab cultures and old and new world sensibilities, these objects of everyday use range from the artifacts from the pre-state period with rare religious pieces to Yemenite jewelry, Bedouin textiles, contemporary garments, sustainable and industrial designs, and adornment incorporating ancient materials, furniture and ceramics.
As a whole, the exhibition highlights the wide range of ethnicities, races and cultural backgrounds that make up the country of Israel and the innovative artists whose works give a glimpse of Israeli life characterized by their collective and personal memory, restlessness, resourcefulness and the influences of globalization. Beginning with The Scroll of Esther, known as the Megillah, Finials (1882), Torah cases (1914), the Bezalel School Rug (1910) from an arts and crafts school created in the early 1900s’and other religious objects, the exhibit opens into a bright and colorful space with secular objects, many of which were created in the last five years. Rich colors exude from garments and textiles, clay and porcelain pieces, wood, 3-D printed objects and those using recycled materials. Some metal and ceramic works are influenced by the simplicity of the Bauhaus school while others include gestural and abstract patterning. There is no particular Israeli style, rather a celebration of the creativity and skill of contemporary artists working and living in a country constantly challenged politically, socially, and economically and by the precariousness of its very existence.