Karen was a long-time member of the AGJA and the Guild’s president in 2015. In 2007, Karen founded the Judaic Arts Fair in Chicago, one of the most highly regarded biennials of Jewish art and culture in the United States, sponsored by Moriah Congregation. The AGJA’s annual Karen Walanka Online exhibit is a way for us to honor Karen’s memory, her love of beauty and her life-long ambition to bring it to us all.
Dictionary definitions tell us that responsibility is the state of having a duty to deal with something or someone, being required to render account and be answerable. Power is fundamentally the ability to control events and other people.
An overarching theme of today’s discourse is social justice, accompanied by the underlying bass line that social injustice is the norm. Class, race, religion, ethnicity, sexuality, gender are all markers: categories that segregate people for better or worse circumstances. Is there a moral imperative that should guide the exercise of power and responsibility toward the elimination of systemic inequality?
For this exhibit we asked artists to explore responsibility and power in the realm of social justice as conjugations of each other. As each begets the other, moral metrics guide their exercise. Our participating artists have translated our topic from its abstract verbalization to visual representation with extraordinary vision and creativity. We are so honored to be able to present this work to you; visit, revisit, contemplate, absorb, share, and enjoy this event.
Beth Goldstein and Robin Atlas, Co-Curators
Beth Goldstein has been associated with the American Guild of Judaic Art for many years – as an exhibiting member, sponsor, and curator. “When I married my work in fine art and design with my Judaism, it absolutely rewired my entire mindset of both my artwork and my faith.”
From her studio in her hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, Beth creates and produces Judaica and Jewish themed works of art that can be found in synagogues, galleries, and private collections.
Beth’s approach to Judaic art is far from niche. She has infused everything from fine art to coloring books, from Ketubot to dreidels, with her spirited sense of the role Judaism plays in daily life. Five new Torah Mantles Beth was recently commissioned to design have been heralded for their innovative, liturgical interpretation of the four seasons, exhibiting her technical finesse in gouache painting and her intuitive sense of purpose. This is just one of many examples of Beth’s delicately determined Judaic artwork.
In “The Art of the Hebrew Alef Beit;” a big book of 26 monoprints, Beth united truth with the fine art of Jewish storytelling. As a curator, Beth initiated and brought to her community the first Exhibit and Celebration of National Jewish Arts Month, an event promoted annually by the AGJA. The exhibit, “About Faith;” featured, promoted, and gave voice to female Jewish artists from the greater Cincinnati area. It was hugely successful and became the forerunner of many future faith-based events in and around Cincinnati, a city already rich in Jewish heritage, history, and community.
Robin Atlas is a visual artist, printmaker, fine arts consultant, and curator whose work has been exhibited throughout the United States. She creates contemporary visual midrash – the process of artistic personification of Hebrew biblical and other sacred Jewish texts as well as halachic laws, adding her own creative voice and vision to the ever-evolving anthology of commentary.
Her mixed media pieces combine dyed, manipulated, and collaged fabric and other fibrous materials which have then been deconstructed and embellished with hand and machine embroidery, paper, paint, beadwork, trim, and other elements.
She is president of the American Guild of Judaic Art and a co-founder of Vector Artist Initiative.