It has been nearly four years since we began The Peleh Residency, our residency based in Berkeley, CA that offers artists across all genres the time, space and support to practice their craft. It was designed to accommodate artists with families, and the residency provides a space apart for retreat, reflection, and art-making. It is an opportunity to foster new collaborations, audiences, and connections, while specifically supporting artists in pursuit of their craft while continuing to be parents and caregivers.
The Peleh Residency is one of the few fully-supported, specifically family-friendly residencies in the country, and it emerged from the vision of the Peleh Fund to support both the creative process, and a new kind of cultural infrastructure that honors a commitment to family and work. The program reflects two core beliefs of its founders. First, that the universal experience of caregiving and working must be acknowledged and supported by our institutions if we are to thrive as a community. And second, that art and culture have the power to cross boundaries between people and ideas, bringing historical identity into modern life in new ways.
A number of years after this program began, we asked artists who were part of the residency to reflect on their experience and how this focus on art, family, and caregiving has impacted their lives and work. Over the next few months, we will be sharing these reflections on our Magazine, hoping to present a multi-voiced picture of this program and the impact of this approach to supporting artists.
The second reflection is by Jerusalem-based visual artist – Hadassa Goldvicht.
I arrived in Berkeley during a time I felt very overwhelmed. It was five years since I gave birth to the first of my two girls, and after very busy years within my art practice. But I didn’t feel like I was the mom I wanted to be, and I needed to think how to reconstruct my life so parenthood and making art could make sense together, both practically and emotionally.
Unlike other artists who came to the Berkeley residency to make art, I came here to rethink different aspects in my life so I could continue to make art in a way that was more sustainable. Our time on Prince Street definitely allowed me to go through that transformation I so very much needed.
The residency gave us the opportunity we never had as a family to rethink how we parent, and how we take care of ourselves. I can point to the moment when I started finding balance again. It was in September, and I was walking with my daughter on Prince Street, talking and looking at the flowers and the trees. Something within me shifted, some change in my ability to not feel torn all the time.
When I was pregnant with the girls, I was scared that I wouldn’t be an artist after I had kids. How could I do it all? After the births, I booked crazy projects on purpose, to make sure I kept going. But after my son was born [the year after the residency], I wasn’t scared of not working. I knew what I was doing. The sense of possibility I feel is completely a product of our time in Berkeley.
Even now, almost three years after the residency, I am still making work that began doing the residency. I’ve begun making work on a larger scale. It was one of the changes that emerged from taking time to reevaluate my relationship to my work.
New works I’ve made since include a huge whale for Israel’s National Library, and a piece for Hadassah Hospital’s Maternity Ward.
This last piece was for the Jerusalem Festival, which took place in a different format due to Covid 19. Several artists were asked to create work in institutions that were struggling and doing meaningful work during Covid, and I chose Hadassah Hospital. I was both born there and gave birth to my children there and I wanted to create work that gave them – the patients and the staff – an opportunity to pause, even for a minute.
The residency allows for such unique support, which doesn’t really exist anywhere else.
I hope that it continues, and leads the way for similar residencies throughout the world.It has had such an impact on me and my family, and I know it will continue to impact other artists who will have the chance to experience it.