Ben Schachter (MFA, MS 2002) recently guest curated a show at the Saint Vincent Gallery, where he assembled the exhibit “Tzit Tzit Fiber Art and Jewish Identity.” The exhibit centers around the concept of the fringe on a prayer shawl worn by Jews during prayer and other iterations of fiber arts within the context of Jewish faith, history, and identity. Schachter has been studying the various aspects of Jewish art for the past three years and this exhibit is an outgrowth of that interest, with artists hailing from Los Angeles, New York City, Kansas City, Illinois, and Pittsburgh.
In addition to curating exhibits, Schachter has had his own work shown in “Ben Schachter: Kosher/Treif and Eruvim” at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art. His pieces utalize the laws of Jewish society as an sysetm for visual and creative expression. Seeing a similarity between these systems and the strategies employed by conceptual artists to create systems that determine the form of their art, Schachter applies some of the rules of Jewish living, such as being kosher and non-kosher, to contemporary art. Through his use of materials his work brings Jewish ideas to a wider audience through contemporary art as much as it brings contemporary art to communities who may not have much experience with it.