melissa-shiff-2.pngMelissa Shiff will create JAMS: The Jewish Animated Mandala Series using the Hebrew God’s seven names and imagery from the museum’s traditional Judaica collection. A hybrid of traditional calligraphic mizrachs, Jewish ritual objects that orient the worshipper towards Jerusalem, and Tibetan mandalas, symbols of the universe that aid in meditation, Shiff will daily create and project videos intended not only to inspire trance-like meditation, but also, in transforming ritual objects into abstract forms, to provide an aesthetic experience. JAMS draws connections between Judaism and Buddhism developed by spiritual seekers during the Beat era, psychedelia of the late 1960s, and rave culture of the past twenty years. Shiff will offer examples of JAMS as mp3 downloads from the museum’s website.

Completed Work on View

Melissa Shiff’s work incorporates Jewish myths, symbols and rituals in the service of social justice and activism. The artist combined a feminist sensibility with a video art aesthetic when she staged her wedding as a multimedia performance and documented it in the film Avant-Garde Jewish Wedding (2004). The Prague Jewish Museum commissioned Shiff to create ARK (2006), an outdoor site-specific video installation that frames the Museum as an ark-a sanctuary for cultural and religious treasures-and an archive preserving Jewish cultural memory.

Melissa Shiff is a video, performance, and installation artist whose work has been shown at the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television (UK), Toronto Jewish Film Festival, Museum of Jewish Heritage, and other venues. Her work is in the Jewish Museum’s permanent collection.