WINTER ART OPENING
Photograph by Peter Decherney, from his series "The Abayudaya Jewish Communities in Uganda, Africa"
The Dortort Center for Creativity in the Art at Hillel at UCLA proudly presents the Winter 2024 Art Opening and Reception
Thursday, January 25th, 2024
Rivka Nehorai, "Body Illuminated: Finding Strength in the Human Spirit," Spiegel Gallery & Dortort Gallery
Peter Decherney, "The Abayudaya Jewish Communities of Uganda, Africa," Gindi Gallery
Wendy Lamm, "From the Land of Miracles," Staircase
Where: Hillel at UCLA, 574 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024
Free & open to the public
Exhibits run through March 22nd, 2024
Peter Decherney is a photographer, filmmaker, and historian. He is the Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Endowed Term Professor in the Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania, where he directs the Penn Global Documentary Institute. His work on global Jewish communities includes the Discovery+ Original documentary Dreaming of Jerusalem and his forthcoming book of photographs Endless Exodus: The Jewish Experience in Ethiopia. Peter has been an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Scholar, a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies, and a U.S. State Department Arts Envoy to Myanmar. In 1919, Ugandan regional ruler Semei Kakungulu broke with Christianity and founded the Abayudaya Jewish community, numbering in the thousands at its height. In the 1970s, those numbers decreased to just a few hundred after Ugandan President Idi Amin banned Jewish observance. The surviving members of the Abayudaya kept their religion alive by secretly praying in a cave in the hills near the city of Mbale. Then, in the mid 1980s, rejuvenated in part by a kibbutz, Uganda’s Jewish community began to grow again. Today, an expanding number of synagogues and schools practice and teach Conservative, Orthodox, and Reform Judaism and observe both Ashkenazi and Sephardi traditions. Most of the photographs in the exhibit were taken in the summer of 2023. They attempt to amplify the stories that members of the Abayudaya communities generously shared with the artist. Rich colors and deep shadows foreground the subjects’ energy, optimism, and pragmatism despite many hardships, and large prints both honor their embrace of Jewish culture and celebrate the diversity of global Judaism.
Rivka Nehorai is an abstract figurative painter. Her work grapples with change and motion, examining how we adjust and evolve from circumstance as we seek greater truth. Rivka’s disarming images - filled with scrawled lines and abstract expressionist tendencies - are infused with both painful and celebratory emotion. Originally a Midwesterner, Rivka studied painting at Rutgers University and now lives in Los Angeles. Rivka builds community as a form of her creative work. She sees intimate, communal gatherings as a revolutionary act, and has dedicated herself for the last decade to cultivating powerful communities in Brooklyn, Long Beach, and Los Angeles. Rivka’s current show, “Body, Illuminated; Finding Strength in the Human Spirit,” follows the artist through her four-year journey from the chaos of Hasidic Brooklyn to the uneasy bliss of Southern California, as she moves through a worldwide pandemic, the fog of Long Covid, and the devastating present. Throughout it all, Rivka returns continuously to the theme of the power and glory of the body, listening to how it can heal us, soaking in spiritual lessons wherever she can find them, and determined to keep dancing.
Wendy Sue Lamm is a two-time World Press Photo Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer. Her photographs are striking by their ability to express the duality of both objective yet profound artistic statements simultaneously. Her first book, From the Land of Miracles, published in Europe and North America, is a figurative and artistic reflection on the fragile balance of the daily lives of Israelis and Palestinians in peace and in war. Within days of its release American Photo Magazine and the Scandinavian Book Fair in Gothenburg, Sweden, selected From the Land of Miracles as one of the best books of the year. Ms. Lamm’s photographs are exhibited in numerous museums and galleries worldwide, including Stockholm Stadsmuseet, Milan’s FORMA International Center of Photography, the Louvre in Paris, and Japan’s Asahi Museum; her work is published in international publications such as The New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, Elle, Geo, Der Spiegel, Le Espresso, Republica, Figaro. Her portraiture is highly sought after by major artists in recording and entertainment. In 2018 her food photographs were featured in the cookbook published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Flavor Bombs: The Umami Ingredients That Make Taste Explode. After earning a BA in Humanities from the University of California at Berkeley, Ms. Lamm accepted photographic assignments for the next eight years that spanned America--from the border towns of El Paso, Texas & Juarez, Mexico, to metropolitan daily newspapers & magazines in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Subsequently, she was based in Jerusalem as a foreign correspondent/war photographer for the French wire service Agence France-Presse, and then European photo agencies. As a member of the Los Angeles Times team reporting on the 1994 earthquake in Northridge, CA her photos were part of the coverage that earned the Times a Pulitzer Prize. From 1996 to 2005 she was based in Jerusalem, Paris and Stockholm. Her reportage spanned Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas. Acclaim for her work in those years includes World Press Photo Awards and the National Press Photographers Picture of the Year Awards.
"The Abayudaya Jewish Communities of Uganda, Africa" is co-sponsored by the Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies at UCLA and the Penn Global Documentary Institute