Isaac Brynjegard-Bialik
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biography

Isaac Brynjegard-Bialik is an artist living in Southern California. He cuts up paper and reassembles it into work made of clean lines and patterns, sinuous shapes and sharp edges, large fields of color and small intimate spaces.

He first showed his work in a “Yom Yerushalayim” arts fair in Jerusalem, and has since shown work in galleries across the United States; his work is in the hands of private collectors around the world. Brynjegard-Bialik's most recent large commissions include "Tree of Life" for the new chapel space at Children's Hospital Los Angeles and "To Boldly Go," presented to William Shatner on behalf of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland.

Trained in graphic design, Brynjegard-Bialik started cutting paper while living in Jerusalem. He regularly speaks about the intersection of art and Judaism, has written on the topic for the CCAR Journal, and maintains an annual summer residency at URJ Camp Newman, where he leads workshops teaching campers about papercutting. In 2013 he was the artist-in-residence for the Union for Reform Judaism Biennial. In 2015 his work was included in the second annual Jerusalem Biennale, and received a juror's award in the "Heroes & Villains" show at the Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center (affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution). In 2016 he served as a Teaching Fellow at American Jewish University's Dream Lab (a thinktank of artists and educators developing a programmatic vision for infusing the field of Jewish education with creativity through the arts).

Brynjegard-Bialik is married to his high school sweetheart, who is a rabbi in the Reform movement. They have three daughters, who often join him in his studio.

 

artist's statement

My work explores the role of narrative in the development and expression of identity. I work in paper because I like its fragility and its place as our primary medium for telling and sharing stories across generations. It is both ephemeral and constant.

I work with the stories and traditions primarily of the Jewish people, though other peoples and cultures enter into my papercuts as well. These are filtered through the twin lenses of the traditional art form of papercutting and contemporary pop culture storytelling techniques.

My work is visual biblical commentary; I call it “paper midrash.” I always begin with text — often bible and other traditional sources, but also the words of poets and musicians. My work is influenced by elements of the natural world and how tradition understands its connection to the Divine: for example the burning bush, the parting of the Red Sea, the revelation at Sinai.

I layer cut-up comic books into my work, drawing parallels between comic book mythologies and religious traditions to delve into the stories that make us human. Comic superheroes exist outside of the “natural” world, be they visitors from other planets or people whose powers stem from strange scientific accidents; they have weaknesses and flaws, and their struggles are often a metaphor for the human experience. I bring these different types of stories together in the layers of my papercuts, searching for new meanings in these combinations.

 

public commissions

"Tree of Life"
Children's Hospital Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California

School Entryway (Thirteen Windows) and Canopy
Maimonides Jewish Day School
Portland, Oregon

Welcome Banners
Church of England, Diocese of Chester
Province of York, Great Britain

Synagogue Ark Doors and Entry Hallway
Congregation Adath Jeshurun
Louisville, Kentucky

"Paper Tefillah" Series
Temple Israel
Memphis, Tennessee

Israel Mural for Schoolyard
Temple Ahavat Shalom
Northridge, California

Legacy Lightbox Series
Hebrew Union College
Jerusalem, Israel

 

private commissions

2017 – “Valley of One Thousand Hills" – for Jonathan Liebesman; Los Angeles, California, USA

2016 – “The Place of the Cure of the Soul" – for Skybound Entertainment; Los Angeles, California, USA

2016 – "Windows on the Bima" – Northridge, California, USA

2015 – "To Boldly Go" – commissioned by Jewish Federation of Greater Portland for William Shatner

2015 – "Walking Together" – New York, New York, USA

2014 – "Justice" – Encino, California, USA

2013 – "Resilience" – Porter Ranch, California, USA

2013 – "Krowne" – Northridge, California, USA

2013 – "Miriam's Well" – Northridge, California, USA

2013 – "In the Garden – Christchurch, New Zealand

2012 – "Visions of Johanna" – Encino, California, USA

2012 – "Psalm 150" – Beverly Hills, California, USA

2012 – "The Uncanny Ben Zoma" – Massachusetts, USA

2011 – "Greenberg" – Porter Ranch, California, USA

2011 – "King David" – Granada Hills, California, USA

2010 – "Koufax" – Porter Ranch, California, USA

2009 – "Miriam's Well" – Toronto, Ontario, Canada

2008 – "Hamsa" – Toronto, Ontario, Canada

 

publications

Detroit Jewish News – "From Slavery to Freedom" (April 2014) – cover art

Open Deur – "Een kleine vonk" – Netherlands (May 2013)

CCAR Journal – "Art and Prayer" – USA (Winter 2013) – authored aticle about "Paper Tefillah" series

 

workshops and residencies (more info at www.papermidrash.com)

Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County – Irvine, California (September 2017)

Temple Beth Israel – Fresno, California (March 2017)

Temple Beth Sholom – Orange County, California (December 2016)

Kehillat Ma'Arav – Santa Monica, California (July 2016)

Congregation Kol Ami – West Hollywood, California (May 2016)

Temple Beth Hillel – Valley Village, California (March 2015)

Congregation Kol Ami – Vancouver, Washington (February 2015)

URJ Biennial – San Diego, California (December 2013)

Temple Beth Am – Los Angeles, California (April 2013)

Temple Israel – Memphis, Tennessee (January 2012)

Temple Ahavat Shalom – Northridge, California (February 2011)

 

lectures and presentations

Temple Ahavat Shalom – Northridge, California (April 2017)

Limmud UK – Birmingham, England, UK (December 2016)

Temple Ahavat Shalom – Northridge, California (December 2016)

American Jewish University – Los Angeles, California (March 2016)

IKAR – Los Angeles, California (March 2016)

Neshamah Congregation – Ontario, Canada (September 2015)

Temple Ahavat Shalom – Northridge, California (March 2015)

Congregation Shir Hadash – Los Gatos, California (March 2015)

URJ Biennial – San Diego, California (December 2013)

Temple Israel – Memphis, Tennessee (January 2012)

 
Copyright by Isaac Brynjegard-Bialik