29 July 2015

From Selfies to Spirituality

Conceptual artist Mel Alexenberg offers the digital generation a way to find life's meaning by creating ‘spiritual blogs.’

By Rachel Neiman, Israel 21c,




Mel Alexenberg  is an artist, educator, writer and blogger working at the interface between art, science, technology and culture whose artworks are in the collections of more than 40 museums worldwide.

Alexenberg’s most recent project is a book and accompanying online project entitled Photograph God: Creating a Spiritual Blog of Your Life.

The book explores the interface between biblical narrative, kabbalah and digital technologies. It demonstrates how to create a blog by photographing God’s “divine light” … “as revealed in everyday life while crafting a dialogue between the bloggers story and the biblical story.”

For example, Alexenberg asked his students at Ariel University to photograph everyday examples of the seven divine kabbalistic attributes. Among the results:

Hesed (compassion/largesse/loving all): “… an elderly man responding to feral cats hungry for love and food. He pets each one and portions out food for them.”



Tiferet (beauty/aesthetic balance/inner elegance): “the birth of a calf, an awesome event expressing deeply felt beauty of seeing new life coming into the world.”


Hod (splendor/gracefulness/magnificence): “… the glorious feeling of young lovers kissing. She photographed their shadow as the hed (echo) of the event.”



Alexenberg’s own spiritual blog was created together with his artist wife, Miriam, to celebrate their 52nd wedding anniversary. During each of the 52 weeks of their 52nd year, they posted six photographs that reflected their life together along with a Twitter “tweet” that related the weekly Torah reading to their shared five-plus decades:

“God saw all that he had made, and behold, it was very good. It was evening and morning, the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31)”

“On the first day of our honeymoon, we bought a cactus plant. On the 42nd year of our honeymoon, our daughter bought us this cactus.”

“He [Jacob] had a vision in a dream. A ladder was standing on the ground and its top reached up toward heaven; and behold! Divine angels were ascending and descending on it. (Genesis 28:12)”

“We enjoyed sitting together in the Metropolitan Museum of Art print room holding Rembrandt’s drawings and etchings of angels in our hands … Mel painted on subway posters and screen printed digitized Rembrandt angels and spiritual messages from underground. “

“Six days shall you accomplish your activities and on the seventh day you shall desist. (Exodus 23:12) The seventh day is Sabbath … you shall not do any creative work. (Exodus 20:10)”

“We can enjoy the technological wonders of our era knowing that we are free to tune out, turn off, and unplug on the next Shabbat.”



To learn more about how to create your own spiritual blog, click on book cover on side bar or see http://bibleblogyourlife.blogspot.com
To learn more about Mel Alexenberg’s extensive body of work, see http://melalexenberg.com


Comments:
Chaim Meiersdorf - Yeshiva University
Mel Alexenberg is simply a genius. I had the pleasure of watching him in action when I worked for him as Rabbi of the Yerucham Art College in the early 1980's. He had a special knack for synthesizing profound Jewish ideas with the plastic arts. The arts enhanced the Jewish message and visa versa. It is wonderful to see that Mel is keeping up the creative work, full speed ahead.

12 July 2015

Joy, Warmth and Good Humor

“I can feel your joy, warmth and good humor in your images. Your approach, while fundamentally spiritual and fired by a kindred spark as my own passion for seeing, is a mirror of a different sort of our mutual exploration of our humanity.” - Julie DuBose, author of Effortless Beauty: Photography as an Expression of Eye, Mind and Heart, Director, Miksang Institute for Contemplative Photography, Colorado

08 July 2015

The Old Will Be Renewed, and the New Will Be Sanctified

“Mel Alexenberg transforms what sounds like blasphemy - "capturing" God in photographs and restricting Him to two-dimensional images - into a mystical exercise as we open our eyes to the Divinity found in our everyday lives. The book's wonderful synthesis between spirituality and technology, heaven and earth, is exciting and thought-provoking.  Photograph God is a practical demonstration of Solomon's wisdom: "Acknowledge God in all your paths."  Alexenberg's affirmation of the spiritual potential of the Internet, blogging, photography, new technologies and social media, brings to mind the dictum of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of pre-state Israel: 'The old will be renewed, and the new will be sanctified.'" - Rabbi Chanan Morrison, author of Gold from the Land of Israel  
             

01 March 2015

Reads Like a Swift and Soulful Breeze

Photograph God: Creating a Spiritual Blog of Your Life is the most recent, and arguably one of art’s most complete and compelling integrations of the sacred and profane.  Mel Alexenberg shows the way to the divine via digital imagery and heightened perception of its presence in the moving face of every person, place, and thing. The book is packed with wisdom and learning about Talmudic tradition, creative expression, and cyberangels. It reads like a swift and soulful breeze. I love every “byte” of it." - Dr. Shaun McNiff, author of Earth Angels: Engaging the Sacred in Everyday Things and Imagination in Action: Secrets for Unleashing Creative Expression, the first University Professor of Lesley University, Cambridge

27 February 2015

Thinks Brilliantly Outside the Box

“For those of us familiar with the diverse and exhilarating work of Mel Alexenberg as an artist, educator and profound thinker, this latest book offers precisely the four things we would expect. The narrative thinks brilliantly outside the box. It synthesizes the realm of the abstruse and transcendent with the realm of the concrete and immanent. It crisscrosses disciplines, from science and technology to philosophy and mysticism to art as both historical and creative phenomena. Finally, the entirety is managed in a style both accessible and inviting. 
Those with prior knowledge of any or all of the disciplines from which Alexenberg draws will smile again and again in affirmation, and those entering without prior knowledge will be thrilled to understand things that they thought might be beyond them. This is one of those books that other thinkers will wish they had somehow thought about how to write, and to which readers of diverse sorts will simply respond by saying: wow!" - Dr. Ori Z. Soltes, author of Tradition and Transformation: Definition and the Historical Challenge of "Jewish" Art, Professorial Lecturer, Georgetown University, former Director, National Jewish Museum, Washington, DC