ART4PEACE, a juried exhibition sponsored by New Rochelle High School (NRHS) and The New Rochelle Art Association (NRAA), will provide an opportunity for artists to exhibit their work in the NRHS Art Gallery for one month beginning October 15.
Conceived by New Rochelle artist Fred Spinowitz, curator of the show, along with Laura Heiss, the gallery curator, ART4PEACE is a positive response to the unsettled feelings of New Rochelle residents when, at the start of 2018, there was repeated violence at and near NRHS. Spinowitz, a member of the Young Israel of New Rochelle and board member of NRAA, came up with the concept of organizing an art exhibit designed to promote peace.
Spinowitz believes that “art has the ability to heal, revise and redirect people to become their better selves. It is an opportunity to reflect on the common denominator of higher human values…Art can stimulate and activate people to do better.”
He added, “It is my intent to share my Hebrew-originated art with all people. The show at the NRHS art gallery is to bring awareness of peace and also some tikkun olam to a high school that was in need of peaceful negotiation.”
B.A. D’Alessandro, president of the NRAA board, discussed Spinowitz’s idea with NRAA. Once it was approved, it was referred to PAVE, the Department of Performance and Visual Art Education at NRHS. Department Chair Marc Schneider enlisted the assistance of NRHS visual arts teachers Alexandra Brock, Scott Seaboldt, Moria McCaul and Tina McCullough, and the program was rolled out.
Entry to the exhibit was open to all artists who are NRAA members or attend art classes at NRHS. Each artist could submit one piece of artwork, using various media that adhered to specific guidelines. A short biographical statement, as well as a written explanation of the artist’s work as it connected to the theme ART4PEACE, were required.
The nearly 40 adult and student artists exhibiting in the show will present their artwork and artists’ statements reflecting on peace and conflict mediation.
Zahra Jlayer, MD, one of the contributing artists, wrote, “Even though living in a peaceful planet is everybody’s dream, achieving this dream looks more impossible. As hate crimes, gun violence and terrorist attacks are increasing, the importance of peace education is rising around the globe. Especially conflict resolution, democracy and human rights are among the most educational needs. By starting training these values to one kid, one class and one school at a time, we can educate a family, a community and a city…then this movement can spread worldwide.”
Spinowitz, who worked closely with the students artists, spoke about the thoughtful, polite and creative students. “They will certainly take their rightful place in creating a better society. A few students who do terrible acts cannot tarnish the thousands of students who act responsibly every day… Faith in our young artists will be restored and one feels the peace and calm that is the daily existence of NRHS.”
Spinowitz has a website on which his Jewish-themed art can be viewed. His recent series, “Tehilim-Psalms,” makes a strong statement about his art’s appeal to a wide segment of society.
Said Spinowitz, “It is my hope that my abstract art with Hebrew calligraphy embedded in the abstraction will continue to have universal meaning and that we can be ‘ohr la amim,’ a light unto the nations.”
The painting that Spinowitz has in the NRHS art gallery is called “Shalom-Shalem.”
For more information on Spinowitz’s art, visit www.spinowitzjudaica.com.
Visits to the ART4PEACE exhibit can be arranged by calling the New Rochelle PAVE office at 914-574-5643. Gallery curator Laura Heiss can be reached at 914-906-6758.
By Yvette Finkelstein