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January 8, 2012 4:08 pm

Art Inspired by the Shtettle

avatar by Yitzchok Moully

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Sheva berakhot.

What drives an artist to adopt a particular style, theme or pallet?

Growing up in post war Europe to survivor parents of the Holocaust , one would expect the work of Shoshannah Brombacher to have a heavy, somber overtone. That is not the case at all.

The Shtettle images that come to life with Shoshannah’s brush are not the harsh truths of some of the Shtettle experiences, but rather the uplifting soulful moments. Shoshannah’s paintings are filled with vibrant hues and colorful depictions of a time gone by that Shoshannah connects with. The Shtettle is her personal oasis, stepping back from the outside world to a personal space where her spirit can be free.

Shoshannah’s subject matter for her art is inspired from the volumes of Chassidic stories she would read in her father’s study as a young girl. To her these stories would talk to her and allowed her to escape to perhaps a better time. Chassidic stories and biblical figures intertwine and flow through Shoshannah’s work; it is more about capturing an expression and passion than depicting a historical moment.

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Shoshannah grew up in Holland just after the war in a non-observant Jewish home. With no Jewish school to choose from, Shoshannah was sent to a Catholic School to be educated. At the age of 14 Shoshannah began seeking her identity, which she found through studying Judaism. At the same time Shoshannah found a love for her two passions: Classical music and Jewish art. To Shoshannah, both art and music express a deep intimate connection with the soul.

Shoshannah made her way to NY in the early 90’s via Berlin and Jerusalem, meeting the man who would later be her husband. Settling first in the Lower East Side, then the East Village, before moving to Williamsburg (pre hipster) where Shoshannah immersed herself in family life and her art. Shoshannah connected to the Chassidic community in South Williamsburg who accepted her despite not being one of them  (but being orthodox and a mother helped break down those barriers).

Shoshannah Brombacher.

Today Shoshannah is among the foremost Jewish, religious artists. She sees her role to educate both the Chassidic community where she lives about the beauty and place of art in our lives, as well as, educating the wider art world of the growing diverse art in the Jewish community. Shoshannah lectures in museums and to high school and college students and is a member of a number of Jewish art groups.

What is Jewish art? To Shoshannah it is an expression of the soul. As  Shoshannah puts it, “a Jewish artist need not frequent the cafes for lengthy discussions or late night parties, art is an expression of the soul and Jewish art by that extension is the expression of a Jewish soul”. And we find that expression in her works. Her motivation as an artist is not to make a living (as many artists would confirm that its a hard market) but rather as a personal expression that she can also share with others. Through her art, Shoshannah shares her love for her Jewish heritage and its’ relevance in today’s world.

For Shoshannah, to paint is to be; it is an expression of her colorful uplifted soul. Shoshannah Brombacher’s work can be seen here.

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