JAI Featured Member/January 2024

Sagi Refael

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JAI Featured Member

Sagi Refael

January 2024

 

JAI Featured Member

Sagi Refael

January 2024

 

Born and raised in Israel, I moved to Los Angeles after a fulfilling career in the arts as an art historian, an educator in various academies and as an advisor to artists and collectors. Helping artists navigate their career paths within the politics of the art world, and providing a broader perspective to their practice, has been one of my interests and goals as a curator and an art professional for close to two decades. In Los Angeles my professional agenda has developed according to the local circumstances and different approaches within the various structures of the art world. Instead of trying to erase my identity and blend within the broader American communities, my approach has been to maintain a dual perspective both as an insider and an outsider – personally and professionally.

By emphasizing my expertise and knowledge of Israeli and Jewish cultures, my curatorial projects have aimed to create unique perspectives that bring interesting and cutting-edge art to different audiences through exhibitions, lectures and collecting guidance.

As a curator, my focus is mainly on thematic exhibitions that identify a topic that hasn’t been presented or researched broadly before, and that provide a glimpse into the cultural zeitgeist of the time. I am also especially interested in helping under-recognized artists get a broader recognition, perhaps due to the “justice seeking” agenda my parents had instilled in me while growing up.

Table of Contents / Table of Contacts, The Jerusalem Biennale, 2019

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Kol Eesha, Gilah Yelin Hirsch  |  Inside/Out, Jana Zimmer

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In 2019 I was honored to curate a collaborative project with JAI artists for the The Jerusalem Biennale – a multi-channel video installation and selection of original artist folios representing over two dozen SoCal Jewish artists and art professionals. At the heart of the exhibition were 5 videos that explored various approaches towards the questions of being a Jewish artist, relationship with the state of Israel through the years, and the role of the artist as an agent of social change. This is one of the projects I am proud of the most in my career. I am fortunate we created it before several of the featured artists passed away.

Click for more information plus videos: Table of Contents / Table of Contacts, The Jerusalem Biennale, 2019

JerusalemBiennale.org

Most recently, the group exhibition EX-tend EX-cess: Metamorphosis in Clay I co-curated with Dr. J. Susan Isaacs at Center for the Arts, Towson University, Maryland, has been chosen as one of the ten best exhibitions of 2022 in the Baltimore area by BmoreArt magazine.

Read the review in BmoreArt magazine

Dreamin’ of a.., Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Photo: Michael Underwood

 

About JAI

 

Jewish Artists Initiative (JAI) is a Southern California organization committed to supporting Jewish artists and arts professionals. JAI aspires to be an agent of transformative change by organizing provocative exhibitions and thoughtful programs promoting diverse dialogue about Jewish identity and experiences. Founded in 2004, JAI remains committed to fostering Jewish culture in our community and beyond.

MISSION AND HISTORY

JAI was conceived by the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles in 2004. It was originally in partnership with the University of Southern California Casden Institute and the USC Roski School of Art and Design. For many years we have been under the fiscal sponsorship of the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity. Members include primarily artists, as well as curators and art historians based in Southern California. The artists go through a jurying process to be admitted as members.

We have collaborated with a great range of Southern California institutions including American Jewish University, Hebrew Union College, UCLA Hillel and USC Hillel as well as a variety of art galleries and public spaces. We have also worked and exhibited in institutions in other parts of the United States and Israel such as the Jewish Art Salon, Hebrew Union College, New York, the New York UJA and the Jerusalem Biennale.

 

JAI BOARD MEMBERS

Bill Aron, Isaac Brynjegard-Bialik, Anne Hromadka Greenwald, Gilah Yelin Hirsch, Sagi Refael, Doni Silver Simons, Hillel Smith, Ruth Weisberg, Cathy Weiss

How to Become a JAI Member: JAI welcomes applications for membership from artists and arts professionals. For how to apply and to view the selection criteria click on Join JAI in the navigation links at the top or bottom of any page. Questions: contact JAI at admin@jaisocal.org