Craig Goodworth, 2012-05-07 18:35:
Feeding and Seeding
A couple of weeks before I went to Phoenix, Kit Danley (president of Neighborhood Ministries) shared a rich metaphor about the site.
In 1950, on the outskirts of Phoenix, a huge grain silo was built to serve the agricultural needs of the community. Kit writes that the structure was used to store seed; some for feed and some for planting. As the years have gone by, the modern city of Phoenix has grown up around this old building, which now finds itself in the heart of the inner-city. The silo and warehouses are no longer in use and evidence signs of decay. The old silo and adjoining structures that sit on the property now belong to Neighborhood Ministries, an important outreach to the youth and families of inner-city Phoenix. They have plans to renovate and remodel the granary and adjoining structures along with the surrounding property into an oasis in urban Phoenix.
What was once intended to store seed that would nourish the physical body of the city, will soon store seed that will nourish the spirit and social body of Phoenix. The old silo warehouse that sits in the middle of the south end of the campus is presently being rehabilitated. “This adaptive reuse is taking a building that was once part of a booming feed and seed business and bringing it back to life with a new kind of feeding and seeding – this time for children, youth and families,” Danley writes.
In the weeks prior to installing LIMINAL GROUND, excavation of the site had begun – contractors had torn up asphalt, removed steel rails, begun digging out the bottom level of the granary and demolished the wooden structure. It was in this in-between time of transition I arrived in Phoenix and began preparations for the installation and the two events of LIMINAL GROUND.
Looking at this larger story of the site, the LIMINAL GROUND installation intersected with this metaphor of feeding and seeding, interacting with the excavation process. Similar to the life-cycle of the grain, the physical content of LIMINAL GROUND was offered through two events in the warehouse where the meaning of the art will be grown over time. This meaning is cultivated through the documentation – this blog, images, presentations and the short documentary (forthcoming from Christianity Today).
Craig Goodworth, 2012-03-14 18:35:
There is danger in a single story, or single-lens master narratives. Such narratives have historically subjugated, dispossessed and disenfranchised people considered to be Other, inferior and foreign. One of the functions of the single story is to sedate us to cultural diversity and nuance. Single stories disable our ability to dialogue through individual difference. I am interested in how installation art, with multi-dimensions, can disempower and deconstruct the demons of a single story.
Part of what contributes to the richness personally of being a Gimilus Chassidim Fellow is working in the Jewish roots of this Fellowship-allowing Jewish concepts and ideas to relate to and inform my process and project. The below series of notes evidence some of what I’ve recently been exposed to.
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The concept of Jewish wisdom values learning and knowledge as more than the sum of its parts. This paradigm intentionally disempowers the single story, or master narratives, from arising, willingly or inadvertently.
Yeshiva (Hebrew: ישיבה, lit. “sitting”; pl. ישיבות, yeshivot) is a Jewish educational institution that focuses on the study of traditional religious texts, primarily the Talmud and Torah study. Study is usually done through daily shiurim (lectures or classes) and in study pairs calledchavrutas (Aramaic for “friendship” or “companionship”). Chavruta-style learning is one of the unique features of the yeshiva. (Wikipedia)
Chavrusa [the word is a dialect variant of “havruta”]
Don Yitzhak Abravanel, a 15th-century Spanish rabbinic commentator, discusses another benefit of havruta study. Abravanel interprets the saying “Make for yourself a rabbi and acquire for yourself a friend” (Mishnah Avot1:6) as meaning that one should learn both with a teacher and with another student. He explains that everyone has doubts at times or is confused regarding how to interpret the text. However, sometimes one is embarrassed to bring his questions to his rabbi. At these times, one can bring these questions to another student. Another student can clarify and sharpen one’s understanding of the text and can provide a different valuable perspective on that text.
Emphasis on Havrusa Is of Recent Vintage
Despite these early references to study in pairs, Shaul Stampfer, a contemporary Israeli historian, argues that study in havruta was not the prevailing mode of learning until the beginning of the last century. Even in the great 19th century yeshivot (Jewish academies of higher learning) of Eastern Europe, havruta was only one among many possible modes of study. These yeshivot sought to create a scholarly elite who would not need a havruta in order to understand the text. They saw havruta as only a means of helping weaker students who could not keep up with the class.
From another viewpoint, “[Chevrusa] (partnered studies) played a central role. You really needed it. To get the most out of a shiur (lecture) you had to prepare and review, because often, even the rebbe himself was very vague. It was very complicated stuff. If you tried to prepare by yourself, you’d be fooling yourself because you’d be limited by your own abilities. On the other hand, anther’s viewpoint is always a little different and this way it would be much richer, almost like a third viewpoint, a combined result. As far as choosing a chavrusa [the word is a dialect variant of “havruta”] goes, it’s like choosing a wife. There are so many things involved. (from William B. Helmreich, The World of the Yeshiva, p.111)