Overall, it was a fantastically rewarding and eye-opening trip.  I do wish that there would have been time to visit with more of AIDA’s artists. That could have been a week (or more) on its own, and wouldn't have been quite so frenzied.   Aviva did a terrific job of filling the days and time that I did have with quality visits - I found myself wanting more time at many studios.  


The most positive visits were with Deganit Schocken and other professors at Shenkar, and with Dafna Kaffeman, who were both well prepared and had a good amount of work available to look at in situ.  I have had some good follow up conversations about the work with each artist since I've been back in Boston. Deganit had a treasure trove of material in her office, and the new work - pieces made from recycled metals and other materials recovered from checkpoints and precious gemstones - is provocative and beautiful.  Dafna may come to teach in Boston at MassArt for a time and I'm glad to know her personally now.  Her work is fantastic, and deserves greater exposure in the US.  Irit Abba's studio was very alive, and I'm glad to have come at such a fruitful time for her, in advance of the exhibition.


Another highlight was the Benyamini Ceramics Center.  I was truly impressed with the new facility and the quality of the installation there, and found the Director and Curator to be well-spoken and open in their overview of the ceramics scene in Israel.  I was impressed by their inclusion of some ceramic-related video work in the current installation.  I almost wish this had been one of the first visits, as it gave a great overview to contemporary practice that allowed me to put other things I had seen in context.  Henrietta Brunner was great to meet as well, and I was glad to be there to see the glass biennial.  Overall - and from my admittedly limited exposure - the work in glass was much less sophisticated than the jewelry, ceramics, etc., but Henrietta was clear and concise in explaining the history of glass in Israel and I commend her for doing the hard work of supporting, mentoring, and encouraging artists to engage with the medium.  Everyone spoke of the important role AIDA has played through its scholarship program. It was great to meet Ayala and Michal as we have work by them both in the collection. 


There were some terrific design components in the program - the opening of a design exhibition at Sotheby's, a visit to the design museum in Holon - with such a vibrant scene and porous boundaries between decorative art and design at play, it would be great to see AIDA more engaged there. Nirith Nelson, the curator of the design show at Sotheby's, was fantastic, and Maya Vinitsky at the Tel Aviv Museum seemed an interesting colleague to begin conversation with - especially as she's installed a large work by Galya Rosenfeld on the campus.  There was an optional studio visit with the graphic designer David Tartakover that was really fantastic. 


Again, let me know if you have any questions.  


All my very best,


Emily Zilber

Ronald C. and Anita L. Wornick Curator of Contemporary Decorative Arts

MFA Boston