Ariella Shamir Israeli-American Artist:
"As an artist I always feel the presence of God"
By: Gad Nahshon
Ariella Shamir is a famous Israeli-American artist. Like many Israelis she shuttles between New York City (Riverdale) and Tel Aviv. She always goes back to her roots in her home town. Recently she went back to Israel in order to take care of her lovely old mother. And there she decided to expose an unknown aspect of her artistic sensitivities : photography.
Her first exhibition took place in the "house of the Israeli Writer." It was a success story. Many celebrities including the mayor of Tel Aviv, Romi Milo, who is also a future potential candidate for Israel's Prime Minister came to the opening in November 1996. Today you can find Ariela Shamir in the Knesset. Her unique photo exhibition was commissioned by the speaker of the Knesset. Shamir, a well known sculptor, never had such national recognition and she is understandably very pleased. The name of her 1993 - 1996 exhibition in Hebrew is 'Hat-chala' (to turn everything into the color blue). While it was Shamir's first photographic exhibition it was not her first artistic exhibition. Shamir is a well known sculptor. She exhibited in many countries. Her sculpture "Half Moon" is on permanent exhibit in the city of Mieford. During the signing of the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, Tel Aviv University acquired her marble sculpture "Egyptian" where it is permanently displayed in the Hall of Human Rights in the Law School building.
Shamir's works were acclaimed by many critics : "The Polished Bronze sculpture by Ariella Shamir are exquisite limpid, exotic and beautiful whether she is rendering lively stylized female countenances or essaying limpid ways and organic flowers. Shamir celebrates elegance as a natural life force," wrote the critic James R. Nelson. "Sculpture is a language with which I speak, a silent music and poetry. My work is past fantasies and vision... I am guided by the rhythm and the poetry of the subject and I search for its essence and mood. My sculptures are often conceived monumentally and intended for an outdoor setting," said Shamir.
For many years she became famous because of her unique sculptures. They expressed womanhood, Feminism, Pregnancies and embryos. She explained to me in her mother's apartment in Tel Aviv the essence of her art." I was always fascinated by the moment before :
The pregnancy of a woman is a good example of a moment before. I like to express this moment, its tension, its dynamic and its mystery. As a woman I understand the situation of pregnancy. I see the world as a subject of eternal movements. Nothing is static. And I would like my sculpture made of bronze to express a feeling of movement. I would like to express the specific moment from which we can realize that we will face a new process, a surge of coming energy," said Shamir who also declares herself to be a religious person. "I believe in the presence of God. The essence of beauty is God," she explained. Shamir also likes mystics and Kabalah as well. Why did she decide to be an artistic photographer? "First from my point of view I am a sculpture photographer and I am also a poetess. I am a creative person.
There are linkages between all of my artistic expressions. All express the way in which I have translated the thing that I have seen. I view my works as one integrated poetry. Therefore it is very simple for me to move from sculpting into photography. With my simple camera I expressed the tension between the light and the shadow. I photographed people, stores, nature in Tel Aviv. Now people who visit my exhibition felt that they saw something more. Suddenly they saw new situations. They felt like me that all of us are part of something big. We are being influenced by events but we also influence them as well. As for me I must confess that it is for me to express myself and my own philosophy in bronze or stone rather than in the photos," remarked Shamir.
Shamir is always looking for new dimensions and for new original tools of artistic expressions. For many years, for example, she represented Israel in the international Olympic of Monumental Sculpture (Snow!). Also she won many prestigious prizes. "My works are not provocative but they are universalistic. I know that they are stimulating a response. I saw people who felt a need to touch my works. And I saw women who touched their stomachs when they saw my sculpture of the embryos. My works have caused an emotional reaction. I would like to time these monuments of encounter. And I know that God was present over there because there were moments of beauty" said Shamir.
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