Asylum Arts, in collaboration with Repair the World presents Visions: Jewish, Art & Social Change Retreat from July 29 – August 1, 2018 in Detroit. During this intensive four-day training, thirty emerging artists from throughout the United States will explore social justice engagement through a Jewish lens, as well as learn from artists and activists in the Detroit community. Our programming includes master artists, site visits, community building, and the grounding of social justice work in Jewish wisdom and values. Additionally, each artist will share their creative work with our group.
This retreat is a way to empower a cadre of Jewishly-identified artists to engage with the larger social justice context and communities in need. We hope to create a self-identified group of Jewish artists who have a commitment to the field of socially-engaged art and have a community of practice that engages with their own identity.
At this moment in time, the voices of artists are especially important. While Jews have been involved in shaping the landscape of social justice and progressive change in many communities, the nature of creating social justice partnerships today can be complex. With this retreat, we want to empower the Jewish artist community to become a crucial part of working to communicate across difference, build healthy communities, and transform conversations.
Logistics and Program
We will be staying in Midtown Detroit at Wayne State University, with our home base at the Repair the World workshop in Southwest Detroit. Artists will be traveling to different locations within Detroit to learn from local artist-leaders impacting communities over the past decades, the Jewish community, and to listen and learn with art and justice-based organizations. We are approaching our work in Detroit with a respect for its particular sense of place, and in our work there will respect and honor the people of Detroit and its history. In our program we aim to establish an environment dedicated to listening, building and engaging with our whole selves. In our retreat, we hope to encourage participants to build meaningful relationships to foster connections and collaboration, to benefit the Detroit ecosystem and the local communities of the participants.
Each participating artist must commit to attending the entire retreat period, from Sunday to Wednesday, as it is essential to the goals of both communal and professional development.
While our retreat is subsidized, and all costs during the retreat period are covered, we ask each participant to pay a $50 fee to demonstrate commitment to our program and its goals. We will be offering stipends to those travelling from outside Metro Detroit. After the retreat, we will be offering seed funding for projects in participants’ local communities that grow out of our work together.
We are looking for artists who demonstrate a high level of excellence, work professionally in their field, and are actively involved in the field of social practice, socially-engaged art, or work at the intersection of art and social justice. They do not need to explicitly explore Jewish topics in their work, but should be open to discussing their Jewish and artistic identities. Artists should be within the stage of emerging, and generally within the ages of 22-45. We are open to all artistic disciplines, including visual arts, theater, performance, video, film, new media, dance, written media, music, etc. Artists are eligible if they are currently living within the United States. We hope to have a diverse geographic spread of artists, including local Detroit artists, who can be our guides to the local Detroit context, and those living in communities throughout the United States.
Do I have to be Jewish to apply?
Our community consists of a diverse group of artists who approach the idea of “Jewishness” with many different perspectives. We are open to anyone who is interested in discussing the intersection of Judaism with artistic identity and social justice. Part of our content will be discussing participants’ personal relationship with Jewish identity.
What is a Jewish artist?
We are looking for people who are interested in exploring Jewish and artistic identity, and we consider “Jewish artist” to be a term that means many different things. We have artists in our network who have a family Jewish background but their work does not currently explore Jewish themes. We have a photographer whose work doesn’t explicitly show Jewish themes, but she feels her Jewish background informs the way she looks at the world. We have a writer who has written novels about his Russian-Jewish background that are really a commentary about America and its values. We have a documentary filmmaker whose work occasionally explores ideas about contemporary Jewish life as part of his interest in environmental issues. We have a musician whose music takes traditional Yemenite Jewish melodies and turns them into powerful world music. We are open to many different perspectives, that is actually what we are looking to build, a community with many different stories.
Who is funding this retreat?
Our funders for this event include Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, the Jim Joseph Foundation, the William Davidson Foundation, the Marcus Foundation, Repair the World Board of Directors, and other individual donors.
What is your stance on Israel?
We are a community that encompasses people of diverse political and ideological perspectives, and our organizational focus is to build a global network of Jewish culture. At all of our retreats, whether they are in Mexico or Tel Aviv or Berlin, we create spaces for artists to set the agenda, and often, artists in the group want to engage around the topic of Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We feel that it is important to allow discussions about complex and difficult topics, and to share diverse viewpoints with one another. There are often disagreements, but we hope we can create a space for open, honest and uncensored discussions about an area that is pressing for many in the Jewish community.
Why is there an age limit?
We understand that artists of all levels need to be supported within the Jewish community, however our retreats are designed for emerging artists who are at similar stages in their careers.
Is this retreat accessible to people with varying needs?
Both Repair the World and Asylum Arts are committed providing a space that allows and encourages diverse people to enter and engage, valuing the perspective each person brings. This includes supporting artists who use wheelchairs, have mental health conditions, hearing impairment, in gender transition, and others who identify with the disability community or temporarily require additional accommodations. Repair the World’s community space is compliant with ADA standards for accessibility, and strives to accommodate the needs of all participants with limited mobility. Wayne State is committed to providing all guests with reliable information and services to make every facet of the university accessible to persons with disabilities. We will be visiting sites throughout the city of Detroit with differing levels of accessibility.
Can I bring my young child?
Unfortunately, our housing at Wayne State does not accommodate minors. Additionally, because of the nature of this retreat, all participants will be travelling throughout the city to multiple site visits, and there will not be alternative spaces available for childcare. If you would like to discuss your specific situation in further detail, please be in touch.
I live in Detroit. Do I have to stay in the housing units at Wayne State?
Although we do encourage all artists to stay in our provided housing to develop closer relationships with the other participants, you are not required to do so.
How will this retreat benefit the community and inhabitants of Detroit?
We are committed to working in partnership with the Detroit community by engaging with local artists and activists and participating in community-engaged projects in a meaningful way. We will honor, listen to, and learn from Detroit-based artists and activists, both as participants and speakers, acknowledging the significant historical narratives of social change in the local context. We have a commitment to working with local, small, minority or woman-owned businesses and services throughout the programming of the retreat. All artists, including those based in Detroit, will be eligible for funding for community-engaged projects after their completion of the program.