2012, archival inkjet print, lace and cement

Absent Present: Wadi Salib 16, 2012 archival inkjet print, lace and cement

Absent presence,” an artist’s talk by Naomi Safran-Hon
4 p.m. Thursday November 29
reception to follow
The Stedman Gallery, Rutgers-Camden

Naomi Safran-Hon has focused her work on the “absent presence,” implied by images of houses abandoned by Palestinian Arabs who remained in Israel, but left their homes in her native Haifa when the state of Israel was established in 1948. She transforms photographs of interiors with lace and cement, sometimes painting with the latter to create powerfully evocative images of displacement, absence, conflict and memory.

Naomi Safran-Hon was born in Oxford, England, in 1984, and grew up in Haifa, Israel; she currently lives in New York. She received her BA Summa Cum Laude from Brandeis University, 2008 in Studio Art and Art History and an MFA from Yale University School of Art in 2010. She has received numerous awards and has exhibited extensively in Israel and in the United States.

For additional Rutgers-Camden programming visit rcca.camden.rutgers.edu


Lilith in the New World (detail), 2007, Mixed media, 144 x 120 x 48 in.,
Courtesy of Flomenhaft Gallery, New York

Artist lecture is to take place Thursday November 15th, 4:00 p.m. reception to follow at The Stedman Gallery.

The painter Siona Benjamin, who resides in New Jersey, will discuss the ideas animating her work as well as how her cultural heritage has influenced her practice. “I am an artist originally from Bombay, India, of Bene Israel Jewish descent. My work reflects my background and the transition between my old and new worlds.” Her work in Ornament and Narrative features the installation Lilith and paintings from her recent series Improvisation that draw on traditional images, cultural references and styles from her Indian-Jewish heritage, transformed through her own unique, contemporary pop cultural sensibility. The work synthesizes seemingly disparate elements from her rich multi-cultural background, and elements of both her old and new worlds.

Ornament and Narrative: Women Artists of Eastern Diasporas features the work of Roya Akhavan, Najla Arafa, Siona Benjamin, Lalla Essaydi, Sissi Farassat, Naomi Safran-Hon, Soody Sharifi, Mitra Tabrizian and Shahar Yahalom, artists originally from countries stretching from Morocco to India. Within this vast region, indigenous and local cultures have developed that distinguish these societies from their neighbors. None of them is immune or impervious to the pressures of modern transformations—the Arab Spring being the most recent modernizing wave engulfing parts of this world. The Stedman Gallery at The Rutgers-Camden Center for the Arts is presenting this exhibition until December 15, 2012.






RCCA works in partnership with Camden schools on multiple professional development workshops each year.  One of these workshops was designed to prepare teachers to introduce the book, Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya to their 11th grade students in Spring 2013.

The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. Camden is one of 78 communities nationwide participating in The Big Read in 2012-13. From March- April 2013 Rutgers-Camden Center for the Arts and the Camden community will celebrate Bless Me Ultima with a full calendar of events including a kick-off event to launch the program; events devoted specifically to the book, such as lectures, book discussions in diverse locations, performances, and more. For more information on The Big Read or to have your own Bless Me Ultima book discussion, call Noreen Scott Garrity at 856-225-6306.

The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.

Check out the link below! It shows a time lapse video of the installation of one of the beautiful pieces currently on view at the Stedman Gallery. Enjoy the video…then come see the work in person!


ORNAMENT AND NARRATIVE: Women Artists of Eastern Diasporas
October 15 – December 15, 2012

The countries and societies stretching from Morocco to India—parts of which are known variously as the Middle East, North Africa, and/or the Fertile Crescent–both share histories and traditions—political, social, religious and cultural—and have developed indigenous and local cultures that distinguish them from their neighbors. None of these societies is immune or impervious to the pressures of modern transformations—the Arab Spring being the most recent modernizing wave engulfing parts of this world. One of the factors of change is mobility: the ability to travel, to visit, or to settle in another place and to find or create community, constituting, thereby, a diaspora that is more often than not the site of acculturation and adaptation to a new society. One of the loci of transformation, as well as the agent of change, is woman to whom this exhibit looks as a consumer, transformer and producer of culture. This exhibition brings together women from the East—as defined above—most of whom live or work abroad, whose contact with other cultures transforms the artistic traditions that travel with them.

This exhibit proposes two streams, ornament and narrative, that animate the work of the participating artists. Strictures against figurative representation have been, to varying degrees and at different moments in history, a part of Muslim, Christian and Jewish cultures and societies. This proscription against the figure has given birth to a culture of the ornament, to the development of intricate geometric and organic patterns, often wedded to a bold use of color, that has characterized the fine and applied arts, architectural details, and the embellishment of printed works.  There have been, of course, less strict interpretations of the injunction against the representation of the figure that have allowed for non-religious figures set in secular narratives. Each of the artists selected has transformed one or both of these traditional approaches with a modernizing touch that delights the viewer in presenting a tradition transformed in a visually engaging image, and which contributes to a deepened understanding of the culture from which they emerge.

Untitled IV (from Nexus), 2009 by Roya Akhavan

Soody Sharifi’s work in this exhibit, selected from her Persian Delights series, has introduced a saturated monochromatic background to figures engaged in a daily activity; the clothing of the figures or the objects with which they are engaged are imprinted with a rich and engaging pattern, establishing a contrast with the emphatic color field.

Roya Akhavan’s paintings from her Nexus series propose richly layered intertwining figures and motifs, recalling the interlaced ornaments of earlier historic moments, but approached by the artist in a much more lyrical way. The relationship between figure and ground is rendered in a much more complex way and the traditional approach to symmetry is thrown slightly off-balance.

Mitra Trabizian’s film work The Predator tackles the tensions of contemporary life in the diaspora, using English as the lingua franca of its protagonists drawn from different North African and Middle Eastern countries that do not share a common language. The film also tackles perceptions that the West projects onto the East, a hold over from the Orientalism of the 19th century, augmented in the recent clashes of cultures.

Siona Benjamin’s installations and paintings draw on traditional images, cultural references and styles from her Indian Jewish heritage,  transformed through her own unique, contemporary pop cultural sensibility. The work presented here , with its rich synthesis of seemingly disparate elements from her rich multi-cultural background, and elements of both her old, and new worlds, includes her large installation “Lilith in the New World,” and several recent “Improvisations.”

Lalla Essaydi, who transgresses many gender-based strictures of Muslim culture in her work,  creates complex, exquisitely-detailed photographic tableaux that reference, destabilize and transform stereotypical images, with many drawn from 19th century Orientalist paintings,  of the “exotic” Middle-Eastern woman. In her work, she carefully poses her women subjects in traditional Muslim dress, covers all surfaces with a personal calligraphic text written in henna, and then creates large-scale color photographs that challenge our preconceptions and reframe our vision.

Shahar Yaholom, an Israeli artist now working in New York, creates dream-like, fantasy images and objects in a variety of media. Her drawings, such as those exhibited here, bring together gothic, mythical, landscape and aquatic images to create emotionally-evocative, multi-layered narratives.

The artists:

  •  Siona Benjamin (India), lives and works in New Jersey
  •  Lalla Eassaydi (Morocco) lives and works in New York
  •  Sissi Ferassat (Iran) lives and works in Vienna
  •  Naomi Safran-Hon (Israel) lives and works in New York
  •  Roya Akhavan (Iran) lives and works in New York
  •  Soody Sharifi (Iran) lives and works in Houston
  •  Najla Arafa (Egypt) lives and studies in Saudi Arabia
  •  Mitra Tabrizian (Iran) lives and works in London
  •  Shahar Yaholam (Israel) lives and works in New York

Ornament and Narrative is presented by Rutgers-Camden Center for the Arts in conjunction with The Fertile Crescent: Gender, Art, and Society, a program of Rutgers Institute for Women and Art (iwa.rutgers.edu) www.fertile-crescent.org.


Murals created by 400 students at Molina Elementary School, and seniors at the Meadows at Pyne Poynt are now being installed at Northgate Park. Teaching artist Kathryn Sclavi, who organized and guided the project, and assistant Briana Marrocco have been taking pride in bringing this community-created artwork to a space where everyone in North Camden can enjoy! More finished product photos coming shortly!

OFF THE WALL through 10/5

Come and visit the Stedman Gallery and it’s current exhibition, Off The Wall.  Venture into the three-dimensional art world and explore artworks, both in the round and off the wall. The sculpture shown is created using a variety of media, including glass, metal, wood, clay, ceramics, and found objects. Selections of sculpture from the Rutgers-Camden Collection of Art include work by regionally, nationally, and internationally acclaimed artists Salvador Dali, Lorna Simpson, William Zorach, John Gianotti, Eiko Fan, Melanie Guernsey, Michael Malpass, and others.

The Stedman Gallery is free and open to the public! We are open M-F 10-4.

The 1st official blog post by the Rutgers-Camden Center for the Arts! We are thrilled to have an outlet to share current news about exhibitions, performances, arts education, and community arts projects with the public. Please visit often for photos, stories, and opportunities to get involved with the arts in Camden, NJ.

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