One of the largest organized residency programs of Israeli artists ever to launch in the U.S., the Schusterman Visiting Artist Program began in fall 2008 and offers unprecedented opportunities for Americans to experience Israeli culture. The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation supports the Schusterman Visiting Artists Program to provide Israeli artists from various disciplines with time spent in North America. These residencies last for two to four months and take place at some of the nation’s most esteemed universities, museums, and other cultural organizations. The program has a special focus on fostering high levels of interaction between the artists and the local communities where they are based.
Current Roster: Fall 2012-Spring 2013
Among the artists coming this year are two esteemed writers: Gail Hareven and Sami Berdugo. Hareven is an established novelist whose fiction has appeared in The New Yorker. She will be hosted by Mt. Holyoke College in cooperation with the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Hampshire College. Hareven recently completed a project translating Shakespeare’s sonnets into Hebrew with Dr. Avi Hasner, a distinguished physician and deputy director at an Israeli hospital.
A young writer and popular creative writing teacher, Berdugo has received much critical attention for his work, “which consistently breaks new poetic paths, thus challenging contemporary Israeli literature,” according to Hebrew literature specialist Dr. Hanna Soker-Schwager. Already the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Prime Minister’s Prize (2005), the Neumann Prize (2007) at Bar Ilan University and, most recently, the Ramat Gan Prize (2011) for his new book, “That Is To Say,” Berdugo is one of the exciting voices of North African descent now emerging in Israel. He will be teaching at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, for the spring semester.
The other 2012-2013 Schusterman Visiting Artists are:
- Experimental composer and sound artist Amnon Wolman, who will be an artist in residence at Harvard University this fall. Wolman has been involved in a broad range of artistic endeavors all over the world, and his catalogue of compositions includes works involving computer-generated and processed sounds, symphonic works, vocal and chamber pieces, film scores, and music for theater and dance.
- Documentary filmmaker Duki Dror will be the University of California, Santa Cruz, for the winter quarter. His most recent work, “Incessant Visions” (2011), about famed architect Erich Mendelsohn, has been screened at dozens of film festivals around the world. In 2010, PBS screened a series of three of Dror’s earlier works, including “Journey of Vaan Nguyen” (2005) about Vietnamese refugees in Israel and “Fantasia” (2001) about his family’s emigration from Iraq to Israel.
- Highly regarded in the World Music scene, percussionist Zohar Fresco is considered the world’s master of the frame drum. This winter he will be in residence at Florida State University in Tallahassee, which has the third-largest music program in U.S. higher education. At the end of his stay, he will be a leading performer at the school’s annual Rainbow Concert.
- Musicians Michael and Shimrit Greilsammer will be at Carleton University in Ottawa this winter. A violinist and singer-songwriter, Michael Greilshammer blends Irish, reggae and rock music. His first album, “Je me reveille” (“Waking Up”), was released by a major French label, and his second album is a collaboration with his wife, Shimrit, a vocalist. Greilshammer has been a supporting act for international artists including Macy Gray and Ziggy Marley.
- Next spring, Guy Meirson will be teaching screenwriting at Michigan State University in East Lansing. He wrote the script for “Rock the Casbah,” which was recently nominated for several Ophir Awards, Israel’s version of the Oscars, including Best Picture. He has been a writer for two other feature films and two Israeli television series, among other projects.
- Choreographer Dana Ruttenberg will be in residence for the spring semester at the University of Florida in Gainesville. She had her own company, based in New York, from 2000-2003, when she created works that were showcased at venues such as Joyce Soho, White Wave and the Toronto Fringe Festival. Since returning to Israel in 2003, Ruttenberg has been choreographing for a number of groups, including the Batsheva Dance Ensemble, the IntimaDance Festival and Curtains Up. Her work has been performed in Hungary, Italy, Russia, Senegal and the U.S., among other countries.
- One of Israel’s leading young choreographers Idan Sharabi was commissioned to create new works in Israel, Denmark and Switzerland during the last two years, and in the past year, his works were performed in seven countries. A graduate of Juilliard, Sharabi was awarded the school’s Zeraspe Award for Best Choreography in 2006. He was formerly a dancer with the renowned Batsheva Dance Company and the Nederlands Dans Theater. Sharabi will be teaching at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts at UC Irvine during the spring quarter.
The goal of the new program is to engage American audiences with Israeli artists, musicians, filmmakers, writers, and choreographers. The program also provides professional development experiences and cultural exposure for Israeli artists outside their home country. Since the program’s inception, 42 artists have been in residence in 35 North American cities to promote deeper connections to Israeli culture and complement, for example, the more standard touring company performances and single readings by authors already underway across the U.S.
“We want to enable Americans to experience, in depth, the vibrant and creative face of Israel that is embodied in its artists, many of whom are doing some of the most exciting and innovative work anywhere in the world today,” said Lynn Schusterman, chairperson of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and the Schusterman Foundation-Israel. “Right now, Israel is enjoying an unprecedented degree of success in several cultural realms, including film, music and choreography. Its visual artists also are showing in major museums outside Israel and achieving a degree of international recognition previously unknown. The artist-in-residence format offers a unique opportunity to import some of this remarkable talent during this particularly fertile period in the cultural history of Israel,” said Schusterman.
Program to Date
Fall 2011 – Spring 2012
Among the 10 artists coming this year is Joshua Sobol, whose plays have been produced at theaters around the world, including in the U.S., Israel, England, Norway, Austria and Japan. Renowned for his play Ghetto, which has been produced in more than 25 countries, he is also the author of Cut Throat Dog, published last year in the United States (Melville House). Sobol will be artist-in-residence at the University of Washington in spring 2012.
Also in spring 2012, two artists will be in residence on University of California campuses. Emmanuel Witzthum, violist, composer and artistic director of The Lab, Center for Contemporary Performing Arts, in Jerusalem, will be hosted by the University of California Berkeley’s renowned Department of Music. Yair Dalal, composer, violinist, oud player and singer and an important figure on the world music scene, will be at UC Santa Barbara to teach and perform his music, which draws on Iraqi, Jewish Arabic and other traditions.
The Schusterman Visiting Artist cohort for 2011-12 also includes:
Poet, writer, critic and musician, Shimon Adaf, who will be artist in residence at the University of Vermont this fall. Amos Oz calls him “one of the most interesting and original voices in contemporary Israeli literature.”
Sahar Azimi, whose choreography has been presented in Israel and Europe and who has danced with some of Israel’s most highly regarded companies, including Noa Dar, Emanuel Gat and Barak Marshall. Azimi will be teaching in the highly regarded Department of Dance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in spring, 2012.
Eran Kolirin, the writer and director of The Band’s Visit, a feature film that won several awards at the 2007 Cannes Festival. Kolirin, who has also worked in television, including on the Israeli version of the American series “In Treatment,” will spend the spring semester teaching at Temple University in Philadelphia.
Choreographer Uri Shafir, who has danced with several leading Israeli companies, including the Batsheva Ensemble, as well as with Dana Ruttenberg and Barak Marshall, will teach next spring in the very active Department of Theater and Dance at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Record producer and music arranger for some of Israel’s leading recording artists, Assaf Talmudi, is also the co-founder of Oy Division, a band specializing in researching and reconstructing Eastern European Jewish folk music, which released its debut album in 2010 and has toured worldwide. Talmudi is nearing completion of a Ph.D. in the Music Department at Bar Ilan University based on interdisciplinary research in the fields of evolutionary musicology, artificial intelligence and complex systems. He will be in residence this fall at McGill University in Montreal.
Sharon Ya’ari, a photographer who will be honored in September with a solo show at the Kunsthaus Baselland in Switzerland and has had one-person shows at the Tel Aviv Museum, the Herzliya (Israel) Museum and the Lisson Gallery in London, among others, will be artist-in-residence at George Washington University, Washington, D.C., this fall.
Dani Menkin, a filmmaker whose students at Syracuse University will work with him when he shoots his next feature film on location in Syracuse this fall. Menkin will also be a presenter and judge at the Syracuse International Film Festival.
Fall 2010 – Spring 2011
Among the 14 artists in residence last year were filmmakers Dana Goren and Yael Hersonski, the winners of the Best Documentary award at the Jerusalem Film Festival in 2009 and 2010, respectively. Goren was in residence this fall at JFilm: The Pittsburgh Jewish Film Forum, teaching at various schools throughout the city and also engaged the community by making a film with local residents. Hersonski, whose Holocaust documentary A Film Unfinished has received enormous attention, including a rave review in the New York Times and several international awards, was hosted by Tufts University in the spring.
Photographer Assaf Evron and visual and performance artist Nelly Agassi were hosted in the fall by the Weinstein JCC in Richmond, Virginia. The residency culminated in an exhibition of their work.
Performance and installation artist and musician Ohad Fishof and dancer and choreographer Noa Zuk were in residence at Ohio State University’s distinguished dance department in the fall.
Choreographers and dancers Yossi Berg and Oded Graf were in residence last winter at the Chutzpah Festival, an international performing arts festival held each year in Vancouver, British Columbia, where they performed and created a new work. Writer Assaf Gavron was at Chapman University in Orange, California, last spring. Gavron’s most recent novel, Almost Dead, was published a year ago by HarperCollins. Musician Amir Gwirtzman was an artist-in-residence last spring at The Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life. Gwirtzman took his 20 instruments on the road to perform in dozens of cities and states served by the Institute.
Visual artist Tamar Harpaz was in residence last spring at SPACES, an artist-run alternative space in Cleveland, Ohio. Harpaz, who works with optics, created an installation in the SPACES gallery and engaged audiences through gallery talks, master classes and other teaching opportunities. One of Israel’s leading cinematographers, Yoav Kosh, was in residence at Colby College in Lewiston, Maine. He also appeared at other colleges and universities in Maine and worked closely with the Maine Jewish Festival.
Pablo Utin, one of Israel’s leading film scholars and critics and the author of The New Israeli Cinema: Conversations with Filmmakers, was hosted last fall by the Motion Pictures Department at the School of Communication at the University of Miami, the Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies and the George Feldenkreis Program in Judaic Studies at the University of Miami, along with the UM Hillel.
Fall 2009 – Spring 2010
Seven artists participated in spring 2010. AXUM (Judah [Gilor Yehuda] and Tedross [Reuben Aragai]) was hosted by the Emory Hillel. AXUM adds its unique Middle Eastern and Ethiopian sounds to Israeli hip-hop and reggae. Choreographer Idan Cohen, whose recent Swan Lake has been a smash in Israel and Europe, was hosted by the Amherst and Smith College Hillels and the Five College Dance Department (Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, Smith and UMass Amherst).
Alex Epstein, one of Israel’s rising stars in the literary world, was at the University of Denver. Documentary filmmakers Dan and Noit Geva were in residence at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore; Dan also taught a class on Israeli film at Johns Hopkins University. Under the sponsorship of the Institute for Southern Jewish Life, which is based in Jackson, Mississippi,
Amir Gwirtzman, a veritable Pied Piper, took his 20 instruments on the road to perform in 20 communities across the southeast.
In the fall of 2009, seven more artists participated in the program. Author (and founder and proprietor of the Jerusalem literary café “Tmol Shilshom”) David Ehrlich was hosted by Portland State University (Oregon). Etty Ben-Zaken, a vocalist and specialist in Sephardic music, and her husband, composer Eitan Steinberg, were in Houston, Texas, where they lectured and performed at the JCC, Rice University, University of Houston and other venues in the area. Elyassaf Kowner was in the San Francisco area (Peninsula JCC, Foster City). Kowner, an interdisciplinary artist working in video, photography and music, engaged with the community to create new works and screen and exhibit his own work.
Photographer Roi Kuper, who has been honored with solo exhibitions at the Herzliya Museum, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and the Tate Modern in London, was at the University of New Mexico and the University of New Mexico Art Museum. He also exhibited his work in Albuquerque.
Documentary filmmaker Ram Loevy, recipient of the Israel Prize, the highest award given in Israel for achievements in art, science and the humanities, taught at Duke University. While in Durham, Loevy lectured at Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies, among other venues.Renana Raz, a choreographer, taught at the University of Texas at Dallas and offered master classes at several other area universities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area as well.
Fall 2008 – Spring 2009
The first artists-in-residence, in the fall of 2008, were performance artist Anat Pick, film historian Yael Munk, and curator and art historian Gideon Ofrat. Pick was the first-ever artist-in-residence at The International Dada Archives at the University of Iowa and was co-hosted by the University of Iowa Hillel in Iowa City. Pick is involved with innovative language-oriented performances or “sound texts” and has performed her voice works in contemporary music festivals around the world. Munk, whose residency took place at the Jewish Community Center of Chicago, is an authority on Israeli film. Ofrat, who became artist-in-residence at the Koffler Centre of the Arts in Toronto, is the author of 100 Years of Art in Israel, which was published in 1998 and is considered the standard text on the subject.
David Polonsky, artist-in-residence at the Brown RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) Hillel in spring 2009, developed the aesthetic approach, created the artwork for the animation and supervised the artistic aspects of the award-winning animated feature film Waltz with Bashir. Ronen Sabbo was an artist-in-residence at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. Sabbo, a musician, DJ and music producer, performed regularly in San Francisco clubs, at Jewish community events in San Francisco and Los Angeles and created artistic collaborative opportunities within the Jewish community and the Bay Area arts and music community-at-large.
Are you interested in serving as an institutional host? Are you an Israeli artist interested in becoming an artist-in-residence?
Marge Goldwater, Schusterman Visiting Artist Program
The Foundation for Jewish Culture provides fiscal sponsorship for the program.
Established in 1987, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation is dedicated to helping the Jewish people flourish by supporting programs that spread the joy of Jewish living, giving and learning. The Foundation also provides assistance to non-sectarian charitable organizations dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in Oklahoma. More information is available at www.schusterman.org.