What Being An Artist Means


Waiting on a bench in the Jerusalem Central Station, I met a girl who was an alumni of my University. She was in Israel for the month and she was on her way to visit her aunt and uncle who lived in the Yeshuv , Itamar.

We spoke about our experiences at Boston University, our recent adventures in the Holy land, and our shared status as artists.

Then she got to politics.  My new friend had entered into dangerous territory.

“You know, I’m an artist and all, and you, being an artist, you probably have similar ideas…but, since I’m an artist, I just don’t really feel comfortable with my aunt living in a settlement.  What do you think?”

Last time I checked, your creative abilities were not supposed to determine what you considered right and wrong.

I am an artist. I paint. I take pictures. I make films. I write.

The fact that I can put paintbrush to canvas does not have any impact on what I think about Jews living in our homeland.  That I can write out a poem does not mean that I am opposed to idealists and dreamers. That I can pick up a camera does not mean I deny the rights of my own people.

If you are an artist, you should be putting your creative energies into defending this land you blindly condemn because of your vocation.  There are artists in this land. There are artists painting pictures and there are artists painting reality. They create the world that they want to live in. They fight for their art, they die for their art, and you oppose them for their art.

Do not tell me you oppose them because you are an artist.

Yes, it is encouraged in society to hide your beliefs, to not stand up for what is right…but to believe in something simply because it fits a label you place yourself into? No wonder the world is upside down.

The Jewish people living in Yesha are artists. They create, they give, they fight.  If you are going to oppose something, let it not be because you are an artist.  If you are going to oppose something, let it be because this something is wrong.  However, In this case, this something…is right.


A Sculpture In Safed


Tourist trinkets and Hamsa bracelets lined the street as I passed by shops in Safed. I wasn’t looking for a bracelet with the Shema on it or a new Magen David necklace.    I had already been on the Israel trip where that was the norm.  I was looking for something different.

What I found was a message.

I spotted an art gallery and entered.  I was immediately drawn toward a particular sculpture.  The familiarity of the sculpture struck me. It was an abstract representation of two human beings in an embrace.  Neither gender nor any other characteristics were discernible from the piece. All that was expressed was two humans making a connection.

What immediately came to my mind upon seeing the piece was a sculpture by Laura Rubio, a Mexican artist currently residing in Atlanta, Georgia.  The figure is of two forms connected and embracing.  Although the forms are more rounded and smooth than the sculpture I found in Safed, they both express human intimacy.  It struck me how these two artists could live on opposite sides of the world but still express the same universal human experience.  

Diversity is beautiful.  I love how in Israel I can see Arabs, Europeans, Ethiopians, Americans, and all other types of people on the same street. Within the Jewish nation, there are many different lifestyles and ways of expressing Judaism.  Differences between people can be beautiful.  However, we often forget that underneath the different clothing and life perspectives, much of what we experience is the same.  When you can recognize that all human beings have the potential to experience love, affection, and connecting with others it is easier to also recognize the respect that each human being deserves and to understand that the universality of the human experience is there to help us recognize the importance of placing value on each and every soul, whether they be Jewish in Israel, Muslim, Israeli, or Atlantan.

Laura Rubio’s Art