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Community Blog “A Magician with Paint”: Joshua Meyer’s ‘Eight Approaches’

By Joshua Polanski

“Joshua Meyer is a magician with paint—building up layers to ultimately reveal images, in a way that encourages the viewer to physically and conceptually approach the work from different perspectives,” said Laura Mandel, the executive director of Jewish Arts Collaborative (JArts), a shared campus partner. On June 22, 2023, that “magician with paint” and the creator of “Eight Approaches” will pay a special visit to Hebrew College for a conversation about the interspace between Judaism and art. When Art and Judaism Collide: A Conversation with Artist Joshua Meyer & Laura Mandel takes place from 6-7 p.m. at Hebrew College and is free and open to the public.

“Eight Approaches,” which debuted this past December at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, will be displayed alongside his painting “Seek” from the College’s permanent collection and will be on view through July 2023. The conversation to be followed by a tour of the Hebrew College art collection. The event is co-sponsored by JArts. “My hope is that the conversation will help illuminate the many layers of Joshua’s work and help us all understand how it illuminates the Hanukkah story in creative ways,” said Mandel.

The eight paintings exhibited at Hebrew College, which stand in for the Hanukkiah, boldly and carefully layer thick paint and overlapping stories. “These paintings are full of overlapping stories, collapsing the past, present and future into an image. I want the viewer to feel what it is like to be the artist making each decision,” said Joshua Meyer.

“Eight Approaches” delves into a rich dialogue with artists like Philip Guston, Mark Rothko and Hyman Bloom, creating conversations in paint. “The layers and colors move and build over the course of months while I am painting, overflowing and adding up to a painting that I hope refuses to sit still. I am enmeshed in both a Judaism and an artistic practice centered on seeking,” added Meyer.

Joining Meyer in conversation on June 22 will be Mandel from JArts. “For me, this makes his work a physical reminder of the power of art, making space to view life from many angles and distances,” said Mandel. “This is especially powerful in the context of ‘Eight Approaches’ because it literally illuminates the Hanukkah story, at first pass showing a visual story of light, and upon further inspection, it illuminates many themes and issues that make Hanukkah important, like human resilience and the power of community.”

Deborah Feinstein, founding chair of the Hebrew College Arts Initiative, added “I am personally thrilled to present Joshua’s work at the College for many reasons: the subject symbolizes a holiday re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem as well as the rededication of Hebrew College in its new collaborative environment. The work also encapsulates people and light.”

The space where art hangs transforms the art itself, according to artist Joshua Meyer. “When these paintings were at the Museum of Fine Arts, they were deeply in dialog with the other artists in that amazing collection. Now, at Hebrew College, they are in dialog with this vibrant community of students, teachers and seekers, so the paintings themselves are transformed.″

“Eight Approaches” inaugurates the galleries at Hebrew College’s new campus at 1860 Washington Street in Newton. The gallery is open Monday through Thursday 8:30 a.m.– 5 p.m., Friday 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m., and Sunday 8:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.

Learn more and register for the free conversation on June 22.

Artist Joshua Meyer is known for his thickly-layered paintings of people, and for a searching, open-ended process. Meyer has been recognized with a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, a CJP Arts and Culture Impact Award, The Sustainable Arts Foundation Award, as well as the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Painting Fellowship. The Cambridge, Massachusetts artist studied art at Yale University and The Bezalel Academy, and internationally. Joshua Meyer was a Visiting Artist at Hebrew College in 2004 and 2006. Forty of his paintings were shown at the College in a 2004 exhibit entitled “Tohu vaVohu.”

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