Creative Ways Projects
Select Community Collaborations
WondeRing Project at the Ashkenaz Festival, Harbourfront Centre, Toronto, August 2018: For the 12th biennial Ashkenaz Festival, North America’s largest celebration of global Jewish music and culture, Shari Davis & Benny Ferdman of Creative Ways, together with curator and producer Evelyn Tauben, designed a site-wide, interactive visual arts experience that transformed the Harbourfront Centre into a wondrous landscape of giant mermaids, mystical unicorns, spinning rabbits and an elephant with a castle on its back. Inspired by Ferdman’s decades-long exploration of the rich visual culture that was once central to Eastern European Jewish communities, this project built upon the artist’s visual library of surprising and fantastical creatures brought to life from medieval Jewish manuscripts, rare photos of lost, painted wooden synagogues and other ritual objects. www. ashkenaz.ca
- Giant sculptural puppets of fantastical creatures created for the parade by Benny Ferdman, Jacob Ferdman, Isis Walls, Yavni Bar Am and a team of incredible volunteers.
- Art workshops for all ages--the metal amulets, spinning whirligigs, and painted flags, celebrating the diverse languages of Toronto, animated the signature Ashkenaz Parade.
- The Room in the Elephant-- exhibition and gallery talk by Benny Ferdman in the Marilyn Brewer Gallery at Harbourfront Centre; curated by Evelyn Tauben.
- An intensive, four day studio course-- at the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD) by Ferdman, introduced students to the rich world of Eastern European Jewish folk art traditions and gave students an opportunity to create artwork for the large puppets leading the Ashkenaz parade.
With Stone Shoes: Creative Ways developed and directed this performance project in which new Ethiopian immigrants to Israel told the story of their journey through theater, music and dance. Performed in Jerusalem, 1994. Sponsored by the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews. The performers worked with Davis and Ferdman to create a script based on their personal stories; none had ever acted before. The title is based on the story told by one of the performers: before leaving their village for the long, dangerous trek to Israel via Sudan, her grandfather told her she must "put on stone shoes" to protect her for the difficult journey to Jerusalem. Families brought precious items from their villages, such as this woven messob--a basket which holds the tray from which the whole family eats together.
Mask Making Workshop in New Delhi, India: Dil Se School for homeless youth. Coordinated by Rachel Firestone.
Global Soul: Stage set of illuminated orbs. For the Jewish World Watch Annual "Global Soul" event at L.A. County Museum of Art
Birthday Concert Theo Bikel: Stage Sets created for the 80th birthday concert and celebration for actor, folk singer, activist Theo Bikel, Wadsworth Theater, Los Angeles. Produced by Craig & Co.
Sanctuary Artwork: New artwork created for the Sanctuary at Beth Emeth Synagogue, Anaheim, California
Face to Face-Portraits in Transit: Installation of 6 ft. tall sculpted faces portraying riders of the Staten Island Ferry, New York. Accompanied by oral history narratives documented while riding the ferry. Funded by a grant from the Staten Island Arts Council,
Tsim-Tsum: This large outdoor sculpture (13 foot in diameter) is based on the giant circular fish known as the Leviathan in Jewish folklore. Created during an art residency at Milken Community High School Los Angeles, this work explores ideas about "rites of passage." It was created in partial collaboration with students, who designed the metal "birth amulets" affixed to the scales.