Hands On Hamsa Exchange

Gallery Statement

Hands-on invites you into the spiritual and artistic correspondence of Vicki Reikes Fox and Georgia Freedman-Harvey. By creating and sending each other handmade hamsot, ancient symbols of protection reimagined for a modern world, they created a model for friendship, storytelling, and collaboration. Their decade-long project demonstrates art’s power to forge strong connections, convey powerful emotions, and sustain community.

When artist Vicki Reikes Fox moved away from California in 2006, she left behind close friend and fellow artist Georgia Freedman-Harvey. With a continent between them, the two began an art-based correspondence, creating and sending hamsot back and forth to one another. They wanted to go beyond the instant gratification culture of internet communication and return to a time when one waited eagerly for a piece of mail. Over the course of more than a decade, Fox and Freedman-Harvey have created a collection of over sixty hamsot.

Hands-on is deeply rooted in Jewish tradition. The process of creating the hamsot as an artistic dialogue represents an art-based form of hevruta, Jewish study done in partnership. Creating artwork within this context expands our contemporary definition of participating in and living a creative Jewish life.

Amulet – exploring the protective power of this object to ward off “the evil eye” and invoke the hand of God. Folk Art – examining the creation of objects handed down for generations. Crafting Community – a hands-on section inviting you to create a hamsa and mail it. The hope is Hands-on will inspire similar projects in communities throughout the United States. Join the exchange and share your thoughts on the exhibit, your hamsa artwork, and your stories of connection by tagging #hamsaexchange on social media.

Hands-on and USC Hillel invite you to find space in your life to tap into your creative side and remember those who matter most. May this exhibition inspire you with the pure joy that comes from creating and encourage you to nurture meaningful connections with one another. We hope this project inspires you to consider: How do you express yourself to those closest to you? Do you share what you create with the people you love? How do you mark moments of transition? In what ways are you creating lasting connections with friends and family?

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Two Generations of Print Makers: A Grandfather, His Grandson, Their Art

This exhibition celebrates the work of two generations of artists, linked through DNA and creativity, who met only through their art, as Fred died 10 months before Gary’s birth.

THE GRANDFATHER: Frederick Foster Brown was a linocut printmaker, art dealer and framer who lived and worked in the Boise area from 1913 thru the early 1960’s.

THE GRANDSON: Gary Frederick Brown is a Los Angeles based monotype printmaker, painter, jewelry designer and sculptor of both stone and porcelain.

The show was inspired by Gary’s chance discovery of a linocut block reading “Brown’s Print Show” amongst his grandfather’s blocks, which triggered his exploration of the roots of his artistry. It is the first time the two artists’ works have been shown side-by-side. Gary had come to know his “grandpa Fred” solely from a few cherished inherited possessions that he lived and worked around, namely: the violin he loved to play, wood-block carving tools, art instruction books, arts and craft period furniture and pottery, several dozen linocut blocks, and Fred’s mobile art box filled with his brushes, paints and pastels.

Having never met, there was no way to make the direct connection between Gary and his grandfather. There was no generational handoff, no mentor/mentee relationship. But once Fred’s prints were laid out in front of Gary, the connections started to appear, as if Fred were reaching down, through the work, to point out similarities inspired by their mutual DNA. Likenesses included the use of color, the ever-present reference to landscape, the focus on nature, and the dreamy nature of life. They both use simple lines and shapes combined with a pleasing use of color to draw us in. While Fred’s work is firmly planted in the world of representational reality and the pleasantries of everyday life, Gary’s art is rooted in the science of string and chaos theory; dynamic and otherworldly.

The USC Hillel Art Gallery’s mission is to provide Jewish students with opportunities to interact with Jewish art and engage with artistic experience and exploration. Additionally, the USC Hillel Art Gallery gives Jewish artists an opportunity to present their work in a Jewish space.

Reception parking is available across the street from USC Hillel in the University Village parking garage on the corner of S. Hoover and W. 32nd Street. Free street parking is also available. For further information please contact Jordyn Walker, USC Hillel Development Associate, 213-973-1202, or Jordyn@uschillel.org

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