American Academy in Jerusalem Pilot 2010


Fellows enjoy lunch at the house of entrepreneur Naim Awasat

The Foundation for Jewish Culture is creating an institute modeled after the successful American Academies in Rome and Berlin. Groups of distinguished artists and scholars, leading experts in their fields, will be in residence in Jerusalem for two ot three month periods. They will work on projects inspired by the city and connect with cultural and academic institutions, thereby enriching the city’s cultural discourse. We expect they will return home with new connections and share their appreciation of the rich diversity and potential of this extraordinary city.

2010 Pilot Program Fellows included:

Reggie Wilson teaches a dance class at Beta

* Artistic Director and performer Reggie Wilson, who founded his company, Reggie Wilson/Fist & Heel Performance Group, in 1989. Wilson draws from the movement languages of the blues, slave and spiritual cultures of Africans in the Americas and combines them with post-modern elements and his own personal movement style to create what he now calls “post-African/Neo-HooDoo Modern dances.” His work has been presented nationally and internationally.

Wilson is a graduate of New York University, Tisch School of the Arts and has lectured, taught and conducted extended workshops and community projects throughout the US, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean. He is the recipient of the Minnesota Dance Alliance’s McKnight National Fellow (2000-2001). Wilson is also a 2002 BESSIE New York Dance and Performance Award recipient for his work The Tie-tongued Goat and the Lightning Bug Who Tried to Put Her Foot Down and a 2002 John Simon Guggenheim Fellow. He has been an artist advisor for the National Dance Project and is a Board Member of Dance Theater Workshop.

Most recently, in recognition of his creative contributions to the field, Wilson was named a 2009 United States Artists Prudential Fellow and is the recipient of the 2009 Herb Alpert Award in Dance. His current work, “The Good Dance – dakar/brooklyn,” had its World premiere at the Walker Art Center in November 2009 and NY premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in December 2009. For more information on the Company and Reggie Wilson, please email

Shelley Jordon at the shuk

* Oregon State University art professor Shelley Jordon, born in Brooklyn, NY, is a Portland-based artist whose work explores the intersection of interior and exterior worlds and connections between past and present experiences. She uses traditional drawing and painting media applied to two dimensional work as well as animation and animated installation that examine issues relating to vulnerability and risk.

Her first animated painting, “Family History”, won the “Judge’s Award” at the 36th Annual Northwest Film Festival from LA Times film critic, Ken Turan and the “Silver Coyote; Critic’s Choice Award” at the Gold Coyote Super Short Film Festival in Oregon and has been screened at film festivals around the world, including Hamburg, Germany and Sydney, Austalia.A recipient of a 2010 Oregon Arts Commission Individual Fellowship Award, a Fulbright-Hayes Group Travel Research Grant to Yemen and Tunisia, and an Oregon Artist’s Fellowship Award in Painting, Jordon is a Professor of Art at Oregon State University. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including a mid-career retrospective at the Frye Museum in Seattle, Washington and inclusion in the Oregon Biennial at the Portland Art Museum. She received her BFA from the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan and her MFA from Brooklyn College, also in New York. She has recently returned from the American Academy in Rome where she was a visiting artist this past spring. For more, see

* Urban planner Josh Sirefman, former Director of the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development and Rebuilding. Prior to that appointment, Mr. Sirefman served as Chief Operating Officer of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the primary vehicle for promoting economic growth in each of the five boroughs. Mr. Sirefman has worked and will continue to work on many of the City’s development priorities, including waterfront projects such as Brooklyn Bridge Park, Governors Island and the redevelopment of Coney Island, and the continued development of the City’s primary business districts, including Lower Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn.

Sirefman received his Master of Urban Planning from the University’s Taubman College and participated in the inaugural year of the Michigan AmeriCorps program. While here, he studied the rapid population decline and resulting effects on Detroit’s industrial base and housing stock. Sirefman honed his community and economic development skills working with the Islandview Community Development Corporation on the eastside of Detroit.

* And literary power couple Jonathan Safran Foer (Everything is Illuminated) and Nicole Krauss (The History of Love), who were named two of the New Yorker‘s “20 Under 40.”

Check out the pictures of the Pilot on Flickr taken by Elise, who blogged her impressions and experiences here and here, and other takes on the pilot program in news outlets like the Jerusalem Post (twice!), the Gazette Times, and the Jewish Review, as well as on blogs like the Forward’s Arty Semite and Midnight East.

Initial research support for this initiative was provided by the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, and support for the pilot residency has been provided by the Bracha Foundation.

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