Last night’s weekly Monday night chevruta learners at the Aish center in New York City were greeted with new paintings adorning the walls of the lobby and lecture room. Elke Reva Sudin’s colorful series “Hipsters and Hassids” illustrates the parallels lives of the two overlapping Williamsburg, Brooklyn communities; the 22 paintings will be on display for the next month.
Although the differences and grievances, rather than the similarities, between the two groups are hot topics these days, Sudin uses side-by-side pieces to highlight the parallels between the adjacent worlds. “Rocker” and “Hassid Dancing” each show an individual spiritedly engaged with music, while “Gottleib’s Deli” and “Kellog’s Diner” portray the two cornerstone eateries. Sudin’s two favorite works, “2am Hipster Party (Where’s Waldo)” and “2am Hassidic Fabregen” are meant to evoke “the same party, the same enthusiasm,” explained Sudin. She also brings a sense of humor to her work: her “Hipster Bible” bears the word “Irony” in biblical script, and in a depiction of Williamsburg’s controversial bike lane, she makes the composition of Bedford Avenue look like a game of Frogger.
Sudin got the gig by responding to a posting by Aish looking for Jewish art. “It occurred to us that we have all these walls,” explained Adam Jacobs, Managing Director of the Aish Center, who saw an opportunity to meet new groups of people and “let them know about what we do.” Jacobs said the organization is looking for artwork “consistent in our messaging: innovative, true to tradition but artistic and modern.” He aims to start collating Jewish artists on Aish’s website and let them sell their artwork from there. Sudin, originally from the greater Springfield, MA, community, based this series, which has also shown at the Workman’s Circle Building in Murray Hill, on one of her graduating theses from the Pratt Institute. “I see myself as standing in between. I feel connected to both sides, but I’m neither and I can sympathize with both sides,” she said, her hair completely covered in a vibrant yellow scarf, but nose ring showing. “I started college right when hipsterdom started to take off…I lost some friends because of the hipster community.”