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July 21, 2011 9:31 am

Street Art Meets Spiritual Practice in ‘RITUAL’

avatar by Elke Reva Sudin

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On a steamy July evening in the heart of Williamsburg Brooklyn, urban contemporary artists hailing from 7 different countries explored the subject of religious practice in the exhibition RITUAL curated by HONEYCOMB and hosted at the Causey Contemporary Gallery.

Based in Buenos Aires, Trystan Bates started Honeycomb to promote young contemporary and fresh artists and to build bridges between communities. He saw a great divide between fresh artists and fine artists and brought them together to further each side and help the fresh artists break into the fine art world.

“[Ritual] permeates all cultures and all types of people. It connects us as a society and is a subject that unites us all, our everyday experience. Everyone has their routine.”

Trystan Bates (center) director of Honeycomb.

The large warehouse style gallery opened its doors and poured into the streets where street art was being created live out in the open. Inside the gallery was bustling with works on canvas and board, utilizing traditional styles, spray paint and mixed media by artists from all walks of life.

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Street art was being created live out in the open.

Included were Jewish artists RUN DONT WALK from Buenos Aires, Argentina and New York’s own Alice Mizrachi. Both artists who use the medium of the open streets, RITUAL was a chance to express their Jewish identity in an multi-cultural gallery setting.

Pesaj, by Run Don't Walk.

Alice Mizrachi's piece combining painting and installation was inspired by the traditional rituals and preparations of a Jewish bride.

Alice Mizrachi’s piece combining painting and installation was inspired by the traditional rituals and preparations of a Jewish bride, reflecting her own community’s strong pressure to be married by a certain age. Alice grew up with Arabic as well as Hebrew in a house with Israeli parents, who instilled in her Sephardic and Eastern Jewish traditions. These influences dominate the iconography she uses, but she borrows from her own modern culture as well. Some symbols, such as the flowers and rings, are American traditions, which work seemlessly with everything else because of the artist’s American identity.

In the center of the installation is the bride herself. On either side is her mom and dad (pieces “Ema” and “Abba”). Seven blessings surround dealing with the subjects of success, happiness, mazal (luck), fertility, ahava (love), and briut (health). The henna paintings refer to the Yemenite bridal ceremony where the bride’s hand is decoratively painted including the groom to be’s name. A small cup of rice rests in the installation representing the rice that is traditional thrown after a couple gets married as they leave. The rice represents bountiful blessings.

Above her installation is Arabic writing, “B’smila hi rachman mir rahim” translating to, “In the name of G0d the most merciful, the most great.”

Alice uses her art to speak for underrepresented women who don’t have a chance to speak up because of community or familial pressures. “People get caught up in what is expected of them and not who they really are.”

RUN DONT WALK, the other Jewish artist in the exhibition, is one of the top street and stencil artists coming out of Argentina today. His work is seen prominently around Buenos Aires and other locations.

“I feel that artists have a responsibility to use our talent to enlighten. It is a universal language that everyone feels differently, you don’t need to understand to interpret.”

Golem, by RUN DONT WALK.

The show represents trends in the contemporary art scene, influenced by street art, newbrow, and urban multi-culturalism. “Over the past five years we’ve seen a shift in contemporary art. More positive [work is being made],” said Trystan Bates.

Bates added, “I feel that artists have a responsibility to use our talent to enlighten. It is a universal language that everyone feels differently, you don’t need to understand to interpret [it].”

We agree.

RITUAL is sponsored by HONEYCOMB and hosted at the Causey Contemporary Gallery, 92 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn, New York. A second reception will be held August 12, from 6-9pm and the exhibition will be up until August 29th, 2011

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