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 JAMS utilizes the motion graphics software program After Effects to make animated video Mandalas out of the Jewish Museum New York's Judaica collection and selected names of the Hebrew God. It transforms these objects and Hebrew letters into mystical abstractions. JAMS was created for the exhibition Off the Wall whereby the audience could interact with the artists who were in the gallery performing their art practice. Below are in situ images. 

     In this project,  Shiff  utilizes the Mandala - which is the sacred meditation device in Eastern religions, particularly Tibetan Buddhism -- for a Jewish artistic practice. These JAMS can be viewed as a device or "spiritual technology" to access the divine through meditating on animated ritual objects.  The traditional Mandala form in Tibetan Buddhism is usually a 4 quadrant one but my hybrid Jewish Mandalas utilize 6 points - thus referencing the Magen David form in addition to their use of Judaica.  However, there are also specifically Jewish sources of inspiration for my project- specifically the art of the Mizrach, an aesthetic device used to direct prayer and contemplation.

     Meanwhile, this project crosses these traditional spiritual pursuits with more secular ecstatic pursuits— i.e. contemporary rave culture and psychedelic culture. These JAMS can be appreciated on the level of art and aesthetic experience as purely beautiful forms that transform Jewish ritual objects into animated abstractions.

JAM 5 which is posted at the top of this page is the last in the series.  The series is for sale in a limited edition.


Off the Wall: Artists at Work

Jewish Museum New York, New York, NY

March 16 - March 27, 2008

Curator: Andrew Ingall

Spin Off: Contemporary Art Circling the Mandala

Koffler Centre for the Arts, Toronto, ON

September 22 - December 4, 2011

Curator: Evelyn Tauben

Judaica Twist

Museum of the Jewish People, Tel Aviv, IL

December 31, 2009 - March 31, 2010

Curator: Daniel Wajman | Supervising Curator: Hagai Segev 


Artist: Melissa Shiff

Music: Reena Katz

Listen to the interview Shiff did with Dan Friedman, Arts and Culture editor at The Forward 

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