THE DURA EUROPOS PROJECT: An ancient site revisited through 21st century eyes

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Artists examine what the ancient Dura Europos artists did with subject, style, history, idea, underlying texts and their myriad commentaries, and they provide their own 21st century interpretations. This includes depictions of the Jewish texts, episodes from history, ideas of the sacred, evoking a historical style, Jewish and pagan identities, and sacred space.

Tobi Kahn

Tobi Kahn

This exhibit, which is curated by Richard McBee and Joel Silverstein, will be held from Dec. 5, 2010, to March 27, 2011, at the Philadelphia Museum of Jewish Art. Curatorial Advisors: Wendi Furman and Yona Verwer

The opening reception will be held Dec. 5 from 4 – 6 p.m, and there will be a panel discussion, as part of the Conference of the Council of American Jewish Museums, on Feb. 28 titled “A new creative spirit: How contemporary Jewish artists are forming partnerships with American Jewish museums, synagogues and institutions.”

The Feb. 29 panel will be held from 6:45 – 7:30 p.m. at the Philadelphia Museum of Jewish Art, and will feature panelists Tobi Kahn, Richard McBee, Cynthia Beth Rubin, Yona Verwer and Ori Z. Soltes. Joel Silverstein will moderate.

Cynthia Beth Rubin

Cynthia Beth Rubin

The Dura Europos Synagogue murals are the earliest known examples of Jewish art (c. 250 CE). The synagogue murals effectively call for the restoration of the Jewish people to their land and Temple ritual through the deployment of visual narratives. These paintings utilize biblical and midrashic sources to create images that yearn for transformation in both the public and personal arena. They establish beyond doubt an ancient source of Jewish art and visual tradition in Jewish culture.

Images here.

3 Minute youtube video with images here.

Uncovered in Dura Europos in 1928 and now in the National Museum in Damascus, the murals are contemporaneous with similar Greco-Roman works, but depict Jewish subjects and predate Christian narrative art by 300 years. Returning to this source is an essential and defining act of reclaiming our Jewish art heritage.

In the show, artists examine what the Dura Europos artists did with subject, style, history, idea, underlying texts and their myriad commentaries and to provide their own 21st century interpretations. This includes depictions of the Jewish texts, episodes from history, ideas of the sacred, evoking a historical style, Jewish and pagan identities, ancient beginnings and sacred space.

Joel Silverstein, curator, Dura Europos Project

JoelDuraeuropa-1-“Dura Europos, a Greco-Roman synagogue from the mid-third century CE is currently in modern Syria. When the synagogue was discovered, this building was found to hold the finest collection of biblical murals ever executed in the ancient world. The murals represent a true beginning for ‘Jewish Art,’ one reflective of its audiences’ beliefs, hopes and fears. There are approximately 50 artists in the exhibition. Each artist is required to execute a 30″ x 30″ panel in any medium with an image or subject from Dura in mind. When assembled, these paintings will comprise a contemporary environment of religious and cultural ideas within the Jewish community. We look back to Dura to see images of ourselves.”

 

 

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