Hanukkah theme educates Boston through public art — Gallery

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2015/12/07/hanukkah-theme-educates-boston-through-public-art/

BOSTON – This week, pedestrians strolling past the Milk Street Café outside Post Office Square downtown might be taken aback by giant, round faces peeking out at them from the windows. Some have a message to communicate, and others just want to share a wave.

“Giants,” an exhibit by multimedia artist Susannah Lawrence, has been featured dozens of times around Boston for more than a decade – but each showing is unique, aiming to transform the people shown into monumental images with a message. At the café, the nearly 100 participants are from the New Center for Art and Culture, a Jewish art center based in Newton.

At Milk Street, the video-projected visages are part of an installation for a citywide Hanukkah exhibit, “8 nights, 8 windows,” that celebrates the Jewish Festival of Lights.

Contributing photographer Kimberly Maroon takes a selfie with HueMenorah Sunday evening at Boomerang's, hoping that the tagged photo will end up on a menorah "candle" screen. (NewBostonPost photo by Kara Bettis)
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Starting Sunday and running through the first two days of next week (Dec. 6-14), the exhibit features eight installations displayed in windows from the Fenway area to the city’s West End, including installations at the Museum of Fine Arts to the Fire + Ice restaurant in Back Bay. Each contribute to a tale of “miracle, illumination, and innovation,” and aim to educate Bostonians about Jewish culture, said Laura Mandel, the project’s organizer and the executive director of the New Center.

Traditionally, the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah celebrates the rededication of the Hebrew Temple in Jerusalem almost 2,200 years ago after it was liberated from foreign conquerors, through the giving of gifts and the lighting of a nine-candle candelabra called a menorah.

“The true meaning of Hanukkah is to put the light of the menorah in the window to share with everyone,” Mandel said. “I’m hoping to help people understand Hanukkah a little bit better.”

She added that the exhibit is aimed at everyone – Jews who are religious, nonobservant Jews and non-Jews. In addition to the exhibits, which are best viewed lit up at night, the holiday week will include festive events and educational activities.

“For people who are Jewish, it’s a sense of pride with activities in the Jewish community that are for them,” Mandel said. “And even for people who aren’t Jewish, to appreciate a culture which is not their own.”

The project has been nearly four years in the making, Mandel said. She believes the power of public art can catapult Jewish culture into the forefront of Boston’s arts scene for a week – and longer. She has sensed a hunger for more Jewish events in the city, she said.

Four artists judged 20 proposals and found eight to best carry out the theme.

“People expect to look at windows during holiday season,” Mandel said. “Especially in Boston where it’s dark and cold in December, this is another way to bring light and warmth to the city.”

Map of Hanukka art installations around Boston – click icons for names of locations.

Contact Kara Bettis at [email protected] or on Twitter @karabettis.