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Voices of Wisdom exhibit in the Ground Level Arts Lab

Voices of Wisdom exhibit in the Ground Level Arts Lab

Ghost Scroll
New art space at Spertus Institute
showcases recent work by
12 distinguished local Jewish artists

Opportunity to see works in progress at December 18 “Open Studio” event
Artist-led tours take place January 19 and March 19 

On Sunday, September 25, with a crowd of artists and admirers in attendance, Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership opened the doors to its new 1,600-square-foot programmatic space for Jewish art, artists, and the community.

Located on Spertus Institute’s first floor, the Ground Level Arts Lab features artifacts from Spertus Institute’s impressive collections around its perimeter, putting these works on view for both researchers and members of the public.

In the center is flexible space for changing exhibits. The first of these, titled Voices of Wisdom, presents new works by Chicago-area Jewish artists.

The works on display were created in conjunction with the Midwest Jewish Artists Lab, an initiative through which Spertus brought together 12 distinguished artists to learn from experts and each other. For a year, the artists had opportunities to study art from the Spertus collections and meet with historians, art scholars, and specialists in a range of fields. During this time, each participant was charged with creating an artwork or series around the theme of Wisdom. These are the works on view.

The participating artists are Sylvia Alotta of Berwyn, Gabriella Boros of Skokie, Melanie Dankowicz of Champaign, Susan Dickman of Evanston, Berit Engen of Oak Park, Jonathan Franklin of Oak Park, Ellen Holtzblatt of Chicago, Judith Joseph of Northbrook, Stephen Levin of Riverwoods, Carol Neiger of Glenview, Dimitri Pavlotsky of Chicago, and Amy Reichert of Evanston.

About the opportunity to take part in this program, Carol Neiger said, “Projects like the Midwest Jewish Artists Lab are crucial to the future of Jewish culture. I was pushed to learn and think about Judaism, and then express that new knowledge through my work. The opportunity to learn and be inspired by other artists has forced me to think about my own artistic expression in a whole new way.”

Echoing similar sentiments, Gabriella Boros said, “The network of Jewish artists to whom I was introduced by Spertus will affect me for a lifetime.”

A series of Ground Level Arts Lab programs are planned for the public. At the first of these, visitors will be able to see art-making in action at an Open Studio event on Sunday, December 18 from 2:00 to 5:00 pm. Attendees will be able to talk to participating artists about their creative processes as well as view informal demonstrations of bookbinding, painting, weaving, woodblock printing, and other art forms. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online in advance through the Spertus website at

Artist-Led Tours take place Thursday, January 19 from 12 to 1:30 pm and Sunday, March 19 from 2 to 4 pm. Visitors will be able to tour Voices of Wisdom with the artists as their guides, hearing about the ideas and experiences that lay at the heart of the artists’ projects. There will be opportunities to learn about the techniques and materials used to create the art on view, from steamrollers and seaweed to gold leaf and toilet paper rolls. The tours are free. Advance reservations are encouraged at

Looking ahead to 2017, a second cohort of artists has been selected and will begin learning and working together soon. These artists are: Stewart Cherlin of Park Ridge, Julie Cowan of Evanston, Dorit Jordan Dotan of Evanston, Gabrielle Egnater of Chicago, Peter N. Gray of Chicago, Charlotte Hart of Evanston, Alan Hobscheid of Chicago, Suzanne Horwitz of Highland Park, Sandra Perlow of Chicago, Joyce Polance of Chicago, Charles Rice of Chicago, and Pauline L. Silberman of Chicago. They will be creating new work around the theme of Inside and Outside, to be exhibited in the Ground Level Arts Lab next year.

Spertus Institute is located at 610 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago. The Ground Level Arts Lab is free and open to the public, Sunday-Wednesday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, Thursday 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, and Friday 10:00 am – 3:00 pm. Voices of Wisdom will be on view through March 19, 2017.

Exhibits at Spertus Institute are made possible in part by the Harry and Sadie Lasky and Charles & M.R. Shapiro Foundations. The Midwest Jewish Artists Lab is generously supported by a grant from the Covenant Foundation.

Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership offers dynamic learning opportunities, rooted in Jewish wisdom and culture and open to all. Graduate programs and workshops train future leaders and engage individuals in exploration of Jewish life. Public programs—including films, exhibits, speakers, seminars, workshops, and concerts—take place at the Institute's Michigan Avenue facility, in the Chicago suburbs, and online. More information can be found at

Spertus Institute is a partner with the Jewish United Fund in serving our community.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Image shown at left

Ghost Scroll V, detail, by Judith Joseph, 2016