8 Jul 2010

Israeli Jewelers at the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition (TOAE)

Posted by Moshe Mikanovsky

Israeli Jewelers at the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition
By Moshe Mikanovsky
Shalom Toronto, July 8, 2010
ShalomLife.com, July 10,2010

Now in its 49th year, the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition (TOAE) is one of the largest, if not the largest, juried art festival, featuring contemporary fine art and craft that takes place on Nathan Phillips Square every July. This year, more than 500 selected artists will gather July 9, 10 and 11 to showcase their contemporary artwork, in all media and styles.

Amongst them will be two Israeli artists who focus their artistic creativity and career to the art of Jewelry making. For Sarit Assaf, it is the first time showing in Canada. With her will be Nirit Dekel, whose 2008 TOAE success made the decision easy for her to join again this year.

I interviewed both Assaf and Dekel over the phone and emails, just before taking their trip to Toronto. Both were excited for this opportunity, and they shared with their background, inspiration and hopes.

Sarit Assaf confessed that growing up she didn’t have any hand in making art. But while on her studies to become a special education teacher, Sarit realized that it wasn’t for her, and she looked for something different. After some trial and error with many different design courses she studied at Omanit College in Jaffa, encouragement from her teachers, and some apprentice work with another Jeweler, Sarit started working at the management of the museum store of the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv, where she works till today.

The store manager, Aviva Ben-Sira, pushed Sarit to become more professionally savvy with her work. But the breakthrough came about 7 years ago, when AIDA, the Association of Israel’s Decorative Arts was created.

Charles Bronfman, and his wife, the late Andrea Bronfman, with their friends Doug and Dale Anderson, were so impressed with the level of artistry and creativity in Israel, that they decided to start the association as a way to support Israeli artists in areas of ceramics, design, fiber, glass, and metal & jewelry. The support is mainly achieved by helping the artists find new worldwide venues such as art shows and galleries, educational programs and scholarships in leading art schools abroad, and museum and galleries exhibitions.

Sarit was one of the first artists to join, and since then had the opportunity to show at the Philadelphia Craft Show, which led to representation at stores and galleries in the USA. But more than that, the experience she was exposed to through AIDA pushed her to become even more professional in all she does – her designs, products’ quality and business endeavors. She is so grateful for AIDA for sponsoring her in this trip to the TOAE.

Sarit Assaf, knitted bracelet, silver.

Sarit Assaf, knitted bracelet, silver.

Sarit’s creations are painstakingly made by metal thread knitting. Some of the metals are precious, like gold and silver, and some are not, but all retain their metal colors, with no additional colors or stones added. Sarit does play with the juxtaposition of the crocheted metal, with its complex perforated look, with smooth metal that lies next to, or peeks from within, the knitted areas. Her works are not small, but they are making an immediate impression. She said it is very much fitting her personally – clean, organized, focused, subdued color palette.

Sarit Assaf, knitted rings, silver, gold-filled, coloured copper

Sarit Assaf, knitted rings, silver, gold-filled, coloured copper

On the other hand, Nirit Dekel’s glass jewelry bursts with colors. Also a member of AIDA, Nirit loves returning to Toronto and the TOAE again. She had an amazing experience two years ago, and can’t wait to come again. 

Nirit started her career with couple of degrees in Social Studies which then changed to working in the hi-tech industry. But when she saw Chihuly’s 2000 art installation at the Tower of David in Jerusalem, she felt her wakeup call, like an alarm clock just woke her up and showed her real life calling. She immediately started taking glass beading workshops, and completely immersed herself, after quitting her hi-tech job, in the work of glass beads making.

In the beginning her beads were “perfect” and “by the book” – round, colorful, dotted, a complete change from her personal style of black and grey outfits. During the following years, and since these days, Nirit developed her beads in many ways. The Ballerinas, with their countless “legs”, who dances and play pure sounds, like tiny bells. The Containers and Pomegranates, which are not closed, ball-like beads, but open at some sides, with design and interaction between the outside and inside, showing and hiding from different directions you look at them. Then there are the flat disks, two dimensional beads. Only their gathering together on the string made them into a three dimensional object. Her latest work includes bead-less beads – their shape is created by the heating process of the glass, but they do not have a pinhole for the thread to go through like beads usually do.

Nirit Dekel, Ballerinas necklace, glass

Nirit Dekel, Ballerinas necklace, glass

For Nirit too, AIDA became the catalytic in launching her international career. She participated at SOFA Chicago, the International Exposition of Sculpture Objects and Functional Art, Philadelphia Craft Show, Boston Craft Show, and is selling at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv. “The most important thing for me was the feeling that I joined a family, and like any family they take care of you and want you to succeed. Their support and encouragement throughout the way, my desire to improve in order to fit the North American standards, and the constructive criticism only pushed me forward. Each show that I have been in, with all the preparations involved, contributed to my development and professional advancement. The work towards this type of show frees the functional thinking and allows creative freedom.”

Nirit Dekel, necklace with disk, container and pomegranate beads, glass

Nirit Dekel, necklace with disk, container and pomegranate beads, glass

I also asked Nirit what influence her work as an Israeli: “I don’t know if my pieces can be define as “Israeli”, but I am sure that the place I am coming from, living in Tel Aviv’s centre close to the Mediterranean, the weather and the Israeli sun, all influences in one way or another who I am, and thus on my creations. I think that the colorfulness, boldness, humor and lack of ancient tradition in glass allow me to break many boundaries.”

Appreciating Dekel’s and Assaf’s unique jewelry through pictures is one thing. Seeing it in person is a whole different story! I hope everyone from our community will show their support and visit Sarit and Nirit this weekend. They will love to see some friendly faces! Below is the information on the show, opening times and where to find Sarit and Nirit.

Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition (TOAE), July 9, 10 and 11, 2010, Nathan Phillips Square. Friday and Saturday 10:30 am – 7:30 pm. Sunday 10:30 am – 6:30 pm. Rain or shine. Free admission. www.torontooutdoorart.org

Sarit Assaf will be at booth 615 in the Yellow section. You can also contact her at saritassaf@netvision.net.il

Nirit Dekel will be at booth 531 in the Turquoise section. You can also contact her at nirit_dekel@hotmail.com or through her website at http://www.niritdekel.com/

AIDA, the association of Israeli’s decorative arts, can be reached through their website at www.aidaarts.org

CIC, the Canada-Israel Committee, are also sponsoring Dekel’s and Assaf’s visit. http://www.cicweb.ca/

Moshe Mikanovsky writes for Shalom Toronto on Israeli Art matters in Toronto.  (moshe@mikanovsky.com, www.mikanovsky.com)

You can also read this article in English as was published at Shalom Toronto:

English Article

English Article

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