A few Jewish artists from Nova Scotia are on the Halifax library walls in summer 2022

A new exhibition featuring Jewish artists from Nova Scotia is now showing at the Halifax Central Library. The art show, which opened July 31 and runs until Sept. 4, is composed of 12 pieces, each from a different artist.

The Atlantic Jewish Council (AJC) suggested the idea to the library, and offered to organize the event and curate the pieces. In terms of curation, the selection committee decided to do a juried show. That means artists submit a piece and respond to a prompt and the selection committee chooses the works that they feel best reflect it.

“Our question was, ‘how has being Jewish influenced your art or your life?’ And it didn’t mean that the work had to be related to anything Jewish… But we really wanted people’s history,” said Lynn Rotin, who is on the selection committee for the show and also has a work of art featured in it.

“So you put out a call for entry and people send you their bio and an artist statement and some images, some photographs. And then we look at the photographs and we picked the ones that we like.”

The artists all live in Nova Scotia now, but they are not all from the province originally. Aside from the Nova Scotia natives, there are also artists from Crimea, Ukraine, the United States, Montreal and Toronto.

One of the pieces is a photo by Adrian Fish, who teaches at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Fish and his wife, who is Israeli, were driving through the desert in Israel and saw what looked like an uninhabited little town in the distance. It turned out to be a training town for the IDF.

“He’s a beautiful photographer, very wide shot… you’ve got the flat sand and the sky,” said Rotin. “When I saw that photograph, I knew we had to include it.”

The selection committee did not decide beforehand to have 12 works in the exhibition; that was just the number of pieces that they felt met the criteria in terms of quality and addressing the prompt. However, Rotin says that number ended up working well for the exhibition venue. It is being held in a space called the Sunroom on the top floor of the Halifax Central Library, which boasts panoramic views of the city.

Zso (who goes by one name) works at the Halifax Central Library, and overseeing the Sunroom is part of their role. They said the library was excited to partner with the AJC for this event, and more than happy to let the AJC take the lead in terms of organization.

“(It) is a great help to us because we feel that in this particular case, for this particular theme, they really are the most expert at running and putting together this kind of exhibition,” said Zso.

The exhibition makes sense for the library because it is part of their mission to foster social connectedness and community inclusion.

“We feel like an exhibition like this helps to bring people together to come into the sunroom area, to engage with the pieces, to engage in conversations amongst themselves about what they’re looking at and the meaning there. And it’s also about community inclusion. It’s very important that the library represents diverse viewpoints, and this is a wonderful example of that.”