Vision/Action: Designers of the Next Generation Exhibition Hebrew Union College in New York            
Graphic Design


May 24 to September 22, 2006

A Cross-Section of Israeli Reality
Here and Now
Through the Eyes of Faculty and Students
of Design, Photography and Jewelry-making
at the WIZO Haifa Academy of Design and Education

by Doron Polak

The exhibition created by teachers and graduates of the graphic design, photography and jewelry-making departments of the WIZO Haifa Academy of Design and Education, reveals a characteristic cross-section of today's art scene in Israel: works of the present generation, the young, dynamic generation that has its say, the alternative sector that determines the map of local creators. This exhibition is located significantly at the heart of the university campus, close to the art zones of New York's Soho, an environment alive and active with a fixed public   of young students and active artists

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The WIZO Haifa Academy of Design and Education is the most prominent professional and academic institution in Israel's northern region for higher education in art, and constitutes a unique center of its kind. The best teacher-artists devote their experience and proficiency to creating  a new generation of young artists 

The Academy's actual location at the heart of a mixed Arab-Jewish neighborhood in Haifa's downtown is a symbolic example of the creative dialogue it holds. Haifa, the third largest city in Israel, is different: a city in which the urban and natural come together, whose Mount Carmel touches the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, both near and far from metropolitan Tel Aviv. For many years Haifa has been a blend of industry and labor, with the vibrancy of political and social action 

Thematically, both the teachers – prominent Israeli artists in their own right – and the graduating students of the Academy move between confronting general symbols and myths of identity, religion and nationality that exist in Israeli society, and personal themes relating to their childhood and family. Along with the more general social themes such as political and military events and the existing security tensions in veryday life, Israeli society's attitude toward the different and the other, the existing or concealed dialogue with physical, urban surroundings – the artists also choose to personally address the central and talked-about themes rampant in the contemporary international art scene. Among these we note works dealing with gender issues, relationships between the "self" and the body, confronting life and death, and ongoing ties with the family and its components 

Works of the Department of Graphic Design deal with various themes that represent the students' projects: from Israeli society's confrontation with the meaning of the Zionist ethos in everyday life, to themes relating to local identity and the by-products that characterize it. The design of signs, posters, everyday accessories, typical clothing, book illustrations, etc. are expressed in various styles of a graphic idiom in which the old grapples the new, the classical vs. today's fashionable, west vs. east 
In the mixed Israeli-Haifa design scene, ongoing dialogue and dilemma of belonging to the "here and now" versus the need to extend the lassical, coming from a place so highly charged with archeology and religious and national sources 

The Department of Photography exhibits a visual spectrum of local panoramas 
Landscapes associated with Haifa and all its unique characteristics, its housing projects, its courtyards, sports fields, rapid construction and impressive achievements versus the ruins of the past and human neglect. In contrast, am updated cross-section of works is shown, relating the personal self, the family, portraits that inhabit our lives, approaching the different, the warped. The Department of Photography presents interpretation and personal visual significance for all the exhibiting artists of the themes that stimulate their artistic taste at this point in their lives 

The exhibition includes a unique display of jewelry made in young, local spirit, of a varied combination of materials, at times quite extraordinary. Some of them function as body ornaments, influenced by the oriental, local cultural texture and showing occidental influences. The pieces are designed in gold, silver and additions of varied industrial materials, and gems – some of them of local origin. There are the  rare fascinating works that address themes and motifs of a religious and traditional nature 

The present exhibition presents some of the academic, cultural, local spirit of Haifa, a young and dynamic spirit that inspires the young generation of artists. It is to be noted that in such a highly varied country, amidst every tensions that are very rapidly conveyed by the international media, a rich scene of artistic and educational creative activity is rampant and it will eventually influence and shape the future Israeli public 


Doron Polak