Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cultural Heritage Artists Project: Jaime Kriksciun

On Sunday, the Cultural Heritage Artists Project of the Orchard Street Shul will end. At this point, it is not decided if this exhibition will travel to another location, but all in all the feedback was very positive. We take this opportunity to introduce another, last artist -- and apologize to all of the other artists who did not make it into the blog. Here now three questions to Jaime Kriksciun.

How did you find out about the Orchard Street Shul project and what motivated you to participate?
I received a call to artists through the New Haven Arts Council. My interest was first sparked by the restoration aspect as a major portion of my career consists of the restoration and refurbishing of old and deteriorating stained glass windows, many associated with ecclesiastical buildings. Before my first official visit to the Shul as part of the CHAPS group, I did a drive by and was immediately struck by the unusual architecture of the building. Once inside, it was obvious this was a diamond in the rough in desperate and necessary need of repair, as a historic landmark, not only for followers of the Jewish faith, but also for New Haven and the community as a whole.

How does this work fit into the context of your other art work?
Trained as a fine artist in multiple disciplines, my focus has been in stained glass for the past ten years. I've sought to push the craft and it's medium from more traditional means into the 21st century, mixing mediums (paint, found objects, etc. . .) with the glass. I tend to tell inspired stories through my pieces and I saw in the shul and it's story a perfect opportunity. There are many layers to my work, literally and figuratively, beyond the broad theme or idea I wish to express. I notoriously includes subtle details, in the form of meaningful objects which require close inspection and deeper introspection. In the case of the Shul piece, I was able to procure several broken crystals from the building's chandeliers as well as some paint chips which i directly incorporated into the work.

What did you "learn" by dealing with the synagogue as inspiration for your work?
At a very basic level, I was simply unaware of the existence of the Orchard Street Shul. I knew of the neighborhood, but became increasingly fascinated by the history that unfolded surrounding the area and the Shul as the project progressed. Not being of the Jewish faith and knowing somewhat little of the Jewish practice of worship (until becoming involved with the Orchard Street Shul project) I was largely unfamiliar with the interior design of a synagogue and the specific symbolisms therein. I've always been a follower of architectural styles and movements. Having had the opportunity to attend some of the lectures and talks on the diversity of synagogue building and architecture throughout history in the New Haven area as well as nationwide and abroad has expanded my knowledge and sparked my interest in this specific area of design.

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