Shirah Rubin is a sculptor who works in mixed media most often incorporating ceramics. She utilizes a visual language with materials appropriate to the metaphorical, historical, and social elements of a project. As a teaching artist, she develops art workshops for audiences ranging from young children through adults in museums, universities, schools, camps, and synagogues. Shirah worked at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston; the Israel Museum and the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem; the Jewish Museum in New York City; the Fresh Air Fund at Camp Hidden Valley, NY; Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design Hillel and Gallery; and Camp Yavneh in New Hampshire.
Her educational leadership and arts administration roles include Director of Education and Administration at BIMA at Williams College; Art Department Chairperson at Gann Academy; and Director of Congregational Learning at Kehillath Israel. Shirah has been sought out as a consultant for a variety of institutions including the Meridian School in Seattle and the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. In addition, she leads professional development workshops, facilitates arts-based collaborations, and inspires arts instructors and administrators to think creatively.
She has a Bachelor of Arts degree with distinction in Studio Art and Psychology from the University of Delaware and a Master of Arts degree in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary.
I am a multidisciplinary artist based in Boston. Through my artistic endeavors, which include installations, sculptural ceramics, mosaics, and most recently public art interventions, I invent three-dimensional worlds that explore 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 recapturing that reality. By investigating these intersections I reclaim fragments of memory, defying the notion that reclaiming memories is beyond our grasp.
Another recurring theme of my work involves exploring how disparate objects, when combined, can become a new unified whole. I enjoy using repetition and variation to create visual echoes of interdependence, unifying distinct elements. This often manifests in a pattern of making and arranging “multiples.”
Conceptually I consider my sculptures, site specific works, and public art interventions as catalysts for social change. I am fascinated by researching a place and envisioning how a sculpture can animate a site into an intentional place that invites connection and participation.
As a teaching artist, Shirah strongly believes in the transformative power of the arts. With her energetic approach to teaching, she aims to empower each one of her students by teaching them how to use 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.
Community art Grants
2022 Brookline Commission for the Arts and MA Cultural Council
2021 CJP, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Arts & Culture Community Impact Grant for the Wisdom Exchange Project, Boston
2020 2Life, Growth mosaic commission, Boston
2008 Community Arts Initiative, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
1996 Keren Karev Grant, Community art mosaic, Jerusalem
2023 June - July, Grace, Light Art Space, NM. Juried by George Rodriguez
2023 May - June, Raw Emotion. Gallery Tempo. Jameson & Thompson, Jamaica Plain, MA
2022 September - October, Family Portrait Juried Exhibition. The Clay Art Center, Port Chester, NY
2022 May - June, Raw Emotion. Gallery Tempo. Jameson & Thompson, Jamaica Plain, MA
2022 April - June, Remember. Renew. Reimagine. Hebrew College, Newton, MA
2022 March - May, Wisdom Exchange Project, Brookline Art Center, Brookline, MA
2021 Expanse, online exhibition through the JTS artist-in-residence program. Curator: Tobi Kahn
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, Artist Beit Midrash, The Skirball Center, NY
ART WORKSHOPS & PRESENTATIONS
2022 - 2023 Facilitated the Explo sessions of the Artist Beit Midrash in Boston co-sponsored by Hebrew College & the Jewish Arts Collaborative.
2022 Art workshop, Making Our Mark: Exploring mark-making and art collaboration through the creative process, Art & Artistry Conference, Mandel Center at Brandeis University.
2022 Art workshop and lecture, Selfie, Self-Portrait, and the Alter-Ego, developed for forty teens on the Bronfman Fellowship, Holmes, NY
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 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
2022- present Independent Artist Program, Ceramics Program, Office of the Arts at Harvard University
2020 - present Jewish Arts Salon, NYC
2017- 2023 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 Ceramics, Allston, 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
2022 Jewish Boston
2021 Jewish Boston
2018 Andover Townsman
"And thank you Shirah x100=marvelous for your leadership, love, perseverance and passion for a stupendous year. I’m a different artist and person than I was last September. I owe you much more than I can ever repay."
Allen from the Boston Artist Beit Midrash, 2023
"Shirah is a stellar individual with exceptional skills for dealing with children. Having been formally trained as a Jewish educator, Shirah’s calling is to teach others. She comes to the field of education with the experience of how to make the learning for others come alive and to elevate each individual so that they are getting what they need as learners. Shirah is able to captivate her students with her deep wisdom but even more importantly she makes each individual feel like they are the most important person at that moment. Shirah is especially deft at connecting with young families as she is relatable to them. I have witnessed Shirah lead a family program with her genuine spirit and her passion for subject matter. She works collaboratively with others and is admired by her peers as someone who can be counted on to approach a project with both a fresh set of eyes and an understanding of how to make sure it is accessible to all students."
Bil Zarch, Director of Camp Yavneh , 2022
“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."
"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."
Jon Brody, VP Programming at Merrimack Valley Jewish Federation, 2019
David Williams, Past President of Kehillath Israel, 2019
“I am honored to have participated in the Wisdom Exchange Project with talented local artist Shirah Rubin. During these challenging times, Shirah invited us to consider our core values and legacy - what we hope to pass on to others. This will be an especially memorable educational experience for our Temple Beth David teenagers. They were encouraged to ask questions, reflect on their Jewish identity and values, and infuse their creative spirits into a meaningful and lasting project for the next generation. These kinds of memorable moments are most needed in Jewish education. I am deeply grateful to Shirah for the opportunity to participate along with the diversity of Jewish community, and to add our voices to the ongoing chain of Jewish tradition.
Rabbi Karen S. Citrin, Temple Beth David, Westwood, MA, 2022