JAI Featured Member/April 2024

Ariel Cohen



JAI Featured Member

Ariel Cohen

April 2024


JAI Featured Member

Ariel Cohen

April 2024



My work primarily explores the relationship between identity and environment. In addition to my art studio practice, I am also a licensed child and family psychotherapist, where I find inspiration for art throughout my daily life.

My art-making process typically begins as an idea rather than an image, and I do my best to follow my intuition. Sometimes I use a preparatory sketch to help visualize the final image, but I mainly try to allow myself the freedom of expression that I find most gratifying.

Having struggled with emotional repression in my earlier life, art provides a therapeutic outlet for me to express the fullest range of my emotions—be it the profound, the grotesque, the beautiful, or the horrifying— my mission is authentic expression above all.


BOING BOING, 2024, acrylic and oil pastel on paper, 12″ x 9″

SHNOZ (self-portrait), 2022, acrylic on papier-mâché, 7″ x 7″ x 6″

Artist Statement:

I’ve chosen to present two of my most recent bodies of work here.

The first is a series of papier-mâché-based sculptures and paintings I’ve developed over the past two years. The idea for using papier-mâché as a medium and technique came to me in a completely serendipitous way: I was picking up the mail at home, and I began to notice the grocery coupons we would throw away day in and day out. I thought to myself, “This is perfectly good art material I’m throwing away!” Papier-mâché is something I hadn’t done since my childhood, so I love how the medium helps me tap into a childlike sense of wonder during the process of creating.

The second body of work is an ongoing series of paintings using acrylic paint and oil pastel on paper, all of which feature skulls or skeletons as the central motif. I’ve been calling this series “Death After Life,” with the core theme being the significant moments in life that can so easily pass us by. “Don’t wait until you’re dead!” these skeletons seem to shout at me, “Live life in all of its complexities, contradictions, horrors, and beauties.” Life is too short, as they say, and we’ve only got one to live (so far as we know).


Happy Idiots, 2021, acrylic on papier-mâché, 13″ x 11″ x 9″

Final Solution Redux (Never Again), 2023, acrylic on papier-mâché, 13″ x 16″ x 3.5″


Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara
Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology, University of San Francisco
Weekly Art Mentorship Workshop, Robin Walker Studio
Shoebox Lab Artist Workshop, Facilitated by Kristine Schomaker


Website  |  Email  |  Instagram


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.


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.



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