Associate professor of art Anika Smulovitz is in New York City today celebrating the opening of “Reinventing Ritual: Contemporary Art and Design for Jewish Life” at The Jewish Museum. Smulovitz contributed two pieces of Judaica (items relating to Jewish religion or custom) to the show, which is the first international exhibition to survey the phenomenon of ritual as an experimental focus in 21st century art and design.
Both pieces by Smulovitz are Torah pointers or “yads” (Hebrew for hands), stylus-like tools that allow readers to follow the text without touching the sacred parchment. Crafted from silver, each yad serves its traditional function but also contains a scientific instrument. One has a magnifying glass affixed to the tip, the other an embedded compass in the base, their empirical applications representing a deeper investigation of the Torah.
“I’m fascinated by functional objects and ritual objects, the history of the handmade,” said Smulovitz, who recently received an Idaho Commission on the Arts grant to create more contemporary Judaica. “My goal was and is to create pieces that show respect but also question, that push people to consider their own perspectives.”
The exhibition will be on view at The Jewish Museum in Manhattan through Feb. 7, after which the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco will display it from April 22-Sept. 28. It features 57 leading artists from all over the world and exceptional examples of industrial design, architecture, installation art, video, drawing, metalwork, jewelry, ceramics, comics, sculpture and textiles arranged in four sections: Thinking, Covering, Absorbing and Building.
The Jewish Museum is the preeminent institution exploring the intersection of 4,000 years of art and Jewish culture. For more about it and “Reinventing Ritual,” visit the museum’s Web site.