ABOUT MIRIAM ANCIS

Miriam Ancis is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley in history and an ordained rabbi from the Hebrew Union College in New York. She also has an MFA in Sculpture from the Parsons School of Design. Her sculptures and drawings have appeared in solo and two-person shows at the In Khan Gallery in SoHo, New York, and in group shows in the United States and France. Ms. Ancis developed an art, artifact and history-centered online Jewish museum for kids and teens called Toldot.org: The Online Jewish Museum of the Next Generation.

STATEMENT

As a woman with many identities (former rabbi, mother, Caucasian, Californian), much of the personal experiences that drive my work involve boundaries – breaking through, or negotiating the periphery. I began my professional life as a reform rabbi. Drawn to symbol and metaphor, my academic interest in Judaism focused on identity markers of daily life – particularly clothing and hair – for insight into views on sexuality, beauty and modesty. As a working professional, I served as rabbi and teacher for young families in Brooklyn. Bridging rabbinics and art, I also created an online museum for kids and teens made up of their everyday artifacts and stories. Now as a full-time artist, I apply my understanding of symbol and meaning making to art. While my work is not religious, my approach to seeing and experiencing traces back to earlier endeavors.

Formerly, my art references the play between real and illusory space. While abstract, it contains the symbolic. In Around Corners, frames push preconceived geometry – defiant rectangles sport a curved corner or spout -- challenging the authority of conventional forms. Wheeled elements set within a hard-edged frame, suggest a child’s toy or farm tool; painted in a vulnerable, gummy pink, the imperfect circles hint at figuration as they connect to everyday life. This odd geometry adds the subjective to the abstract language of the work. In some pieces, patches of color energize the spaces between the elements, offering a nuanced dialogue between dimensions.

The social and emotional charge of gender, religion and politics inform my work; without being overtly political, I transform these narratives in an economy of form. Beauty intertwines with mystery; geometry, color and texture build a gestural abstraction of human conversation.