My artistic endeavors include installations, sculptural ceramics, and mosaics. My art explores memory and the challenges posed by its fragile nature. I believe that the past is caught between three discrete elements: its reality, our idealization of that reality, and the impossibility of its recapture. My art tells stories that reveal my representations of that long-forgotten reality and defy the notion that reclaiming it is beyond our grasp.
Another recurring theme of my work is the exploration of relationships between disparate objects that, when combined, invent a new whole. I create visual reminders of our interdependence since I create art works that unify distinct elements. This often manifests in a pattern of creating “multiples” of objects in my work that I arrange. Consistent throughout my art practice are processes of observation, research, and integrating both art history and cultural contexts in service of visual storytelling.
As a teaching artist, Shirah strongly believes in the transformative power of the the arts. With her energetic approach to teaching, she aims to empower each one of her students by teaching them how to use a techniques and art materials such as hand-building and sculpting in clay; creating mosaics; and watercolor painting to name a few. Shirah encourages her students to develop and expand their visual vocabulary as she also supports them to express themselves fully and freely. Shirah’s positive and encouraging personality extends naturally to her teaching philosophy.
She promotes multidisciplinary experimentation with art processes and visual observation.
Core to her teaching is igniting the flow of creative thinking. Shirah is committed to incorporating both contemporary visual culture and art history into her instruction. She employs the use of self-reflection to help students analyze their work and encourages documentation of the students’ processes including “gallery openings” for finished works.
Originally having trained in studio art (ceramics) and psychology, Shirah creates figurative ceramics and sculptures inspired by emotion, expression, and abstraction. In addition to her own work, Shirah is a community artist who creates art with the collaborative contributions of different groups. She develops a creative process that gathers groups to work creatively on projects larger in aim, scope, and scale than they could achieve individually.
Professional Resume LINK
Community art Commissions
2020 2Life, "Growth" mosaic commission, Boston
2008 Community Arts Initiative, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
1996 Keren Karev Grant, Community art mosaic, Jerusalem
2020 Capture this Moment, American Jewish University, Los Angeles, CA
2016 Do Business. Make Art, New Art Center, Newton, MA
2015 Ushpizin (Inviting Guests) to the Sukkah Project, The Jewish Theological Seminary, NY
2008 MudStone Studio, Warren, MA
Curated a community ceramics exhibition.
2008 Hillel Gallery Project, Brown University Hillel, RI
2007 Installation Art, Massachusetts College of Art, MA
2003 Here and There, The Jewish Theological Seminary, NY
Curated JTS student art exhibition. Included work submitted by students in Rabbinical School, Cantorial School, the Davidson Graduate School of Education, the Graduate School and List College.
2000 Celebration, The Bronfman Center at New York University, NY
2000 The Text Still Speaks, The Skirball Center, NY
ART WORKSHOPS & PRESENTATIONS
2019 Art workshop and lecture, Creative Commentary: Developing community arts-based learning inspired by Jewish texts and contemporary sources, Quest Teaching for Excellence Conference, Jewish Federation of Greater Metrowest, NJ
2016 Moderated a conversation with artist Archie Rand about his 613 paintings, Hebrew College, Newton, MA
2021 Scholar-Artisan, Atiq Maker Kollel, Cohort 3, Berkeley, CA
2018 Artist-in-Residence Lecture 3 Part Series Merrimack Valley Jewish Federation, MA
What is Jewish Art? Visual Midrash and the Book of Ruth & Reinventing Ritual Objects
2011 Camp Ramah New England, MA
2009 Camp Ramah New England, MA
2020 Co-chair for planning an Arts Beit Midrash with Hebrew College, Jewish Arts Collaborative, CJP, Boston, MA
2020 Combined Jewish Philanthropies Member of Creative Council, Boston, MA
2020 Jewish Arts Salon, NYC
2017 - present Jewish Arts Collaborative Ambassador, Boston, MA
2021 Georgetown University, Georgetown Institute for Transformational Leadership Executive Certificate Program, Washington, DC
Graduated with a certificate in Facilitation to design and facilitate more effective gatherings to draw out the unique contributions of all participants, build consensus, and foster action that leads to results.
2020 Open Studio Project, Evanston, IL
Studied arts facilitation in an intensive training.
2019 Harvard Extension School Ceramics, Cambridge, MA
Studied figurative clay sculpture.
2005 National Gallery of Arts Fellowship in Digital Storytelling Washington, DC
Learned to use technology as a tool in creating stories inspired by masterpieces from their collection.
2005 Santa Fe Clay Studio, Santa Fe, NM
Studied figurative clay sculpture.
2004 Worcester Craft Center, Worcester, MA
Studied glass kiln-casting.
2003 Jewish Theological Seminary, NY, NY
Masters of Arts in Jewish Education
2001 Centro Studio Vetro, Venice, Italy
Studied glass kiln-casting.
1999-2002 Urban Glass, Brooklyn, NY
Studied a survey of glass-making techniques.
1994 University of Delaware, Newark, DE
Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art and Psychology—thesis with honors
2018 Andover Townsman
"Shirah applies creativity and innovative thinking to everything she does, and has launched and nurtured valuable programs that will benefit participants for years to come."
David Williams, Past President of Kehillath Israel, 2019
"She is extremely bright and passionate about her work. Her creativity and vision surpassed expectations. She collaborated with teachers to document students’ reflections of their creative process. Guests were in awe and the children were so proud of their accomplishments. She truly brought the year’s learning to life!"
Sara Sinai, Director of KI Pre-school, 2019
“As a leader, she is excellent at ‘reading’ a group. She has the ability to notice members of a group, and respond appropriately and wisely. She has the rare skill of knowing when to speak and lead, and when to make space for participants. She is a quick, creative thinker, and is able to adapt when necessary. She brings her head, heart and soul into her work with people. Throughout her years as an educator and artist, she has relished new opportunities for development. She is energized by new ideas and enjoys the creativity that comes with new learning. “
Rabbi Marcia Plumb, Mishkan Tefilah , 2019
“Great job. Very engaging presentation. Who would have thought that so much artwork on one story (the Book of Ruth) that many people are not very familiar with would be so interesting."
Jon Brody, VP Programming at Merrimack Valley Jewish Federation, 2019
“A wonderful opportunity to improve our teaching skills. It was meaningful to meet & collaborate with colleagues from different backgrounds."
Workshop Participants, Quest Conference - Creating Commentary Presentation, 2019