Purim Inspires Photographer Leann Shamash and Her Students

by AryanArtnews
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Leann Shamash gives adult education students a seemingly simple task. Finding what is hidden in the objects they take pictures of. Shamash, a Newton-based photographer, teaches a course at the Hebrew University Open Circle Program this semester with the exciting title “Feasts, Fasts, Fakeries: The Scroll of Esther Through a Photographic Lens.” ..

During the two hours of six consecutive Sundays leading up to Purim’s holiday, Shamash asked the students to read the book of Esther every week. From there, we collect themes that deepen our understanding of the text and inform the photographic process. Shamash said this conceived approach is in sharp contrast to the way Megillah normally experiences. “When we read Megillat Esther, it’s in the synagogue and someone is hanging around it,” she said. “We haven’t really embraced it. Another way we see Megillah is through Prims. shpiels Make the basic theme of the holiday a musical comedy. However, there are still many things in Megillah. By reading it carefully, learners can find themes and take pictures. “

Last fall, Shamash said “The Book of Belaysit [Genesis] Through the photo. Rich in family dramas, sibling rivals, parental favors and jealousy, Belaysit He offered various themes to her students. “”Belaysit It’s abundant in dysfunction, making it a good way to inspect and capture images, “says Shamash. She said Megillah is also rich in images and ideas. However, there are also issues related to women, power, especially those involved in kingship, which also stir her imagination.

Leann Shamash (Photo: Leann Shamash)

In addition, there is the fact that Megillah is the only book in the Jewish canon that takes place entirely during exile. It is also a book in which God does not appear to be written in detail. In fact, there is no mention of God.

Shamash encourages students to look for photo forums to see works that can dramatically increase the creativity of others. The goal is to see how other photographers interpret the subject the student wants to investigate. “In a hidden spirit, I ask everyone to take an object, take pictures of it many times, and find what’s hidden in it,” she said. “And in that same mission, they can also find something about beauty ideals or Esther’s ideas.” By the end of the task, the students applied the same skills to text interpretation and photography.

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Image with the theme of concealment (Photo: Jayne Miller)

Shamash emphasized that she is a guide rather than a teacher of the course. Her students are responsible for theme selection and presentation creation. Shamash himself is a photography student. This month she will be attending her student exhibition, the Photography Atelier, at the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester for the second time.She presents a photo inspired by her participation Daf Yomi— A seven-year study of the Talmud in collaboration with other participants around the world.This is the second year of the cycle and Shamash covers the current subject. Daf Yomi Integrate the Talmud text into her photo on the subject of fasting.

take up Daf Yomi It also coincided with the year Shamash said the mourner Kaddish for his mother Irma. At her first exhibition at her Griffin, she presented a series of photographs of her mother called her “Hat Series”. “It’s the project I’m most proud of,” says Shamash, shooting her mother, who was 95 at the time, in various hats.

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Irma, the mother of Leann Shamash (Photo: Leann Shamash)

As the year of her memorial began, the pandemic brought people to the zoom and changed the notion of the community. Shamash, the mourner Kaddish, is virtually Minyan Brookline congregation Kehilus in Israel. She took a picture of the mourner, Minyan Zoom box participants. “It’s a small history between COVIDs,” Shamash said.

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Irma, the mother of Leann Shamash (Photo: Leann Shamash)

As a mourner, Shamash also began writing poetry based on the weekly part of the Law. “In the process of writing poetry, I had to read poetry. Parasha Deeper, “she said. “I had to explore the subject to write poetry. I was a learner above all, so it was magic to speak out in poetry. I was doing it to write poetry. I wanted people to be able to do the same thing with photography. “

Shamash has found a unique commonality between the visual world and the written world. In both arts, she states: “There are rushing themes under the surface, but if you don’t take the time to see them, you won’t know what they are. Once you know them, you can create around them with images and poems. . “

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Cosmetics-themed image “Cosmetics with Rage” (Photo: Judith Royce Child)

Shamash also said that her students create expressive images on the theme of concealment and beauty that are unique to Prim. For example, one student took a picture of the text from Megillah, placed a plastic sheet on it, and colored it with oil crayons. The effect was an impressive beauty image reminiscent of the bold red lipstick strokes. Another student took a brief photo of her makeup kit inspired by Megillah’s Chapter 2. “That chapter,” said Shamash. She says, “I will talk about how women entered the harem a year before they were sent to the king. It was the year they had oil, incense and perfume.”

Shamash wants to help students develop awe and surprise in their photography practice. “Abraham Joshua Heschel said we need to see the world with a sense of’fundamental surprise’. It’s a world religion experience, “she said. “I want to practice it with photography for myself and my learners. To see miracles everywhere, you just look up and down and everything around you Must be. “

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(Photo: Jayne Miller)

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