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. More images at
- 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.
ART IN THE ARTHOUSE presents: BENNY FERDMAN: COOK-UP A SOUP AND OTHER TALES
ART IN THE ARTHOUSE Presents
COOK UP A SOUP AND OTHER TALES,
Laemmle Theatre Town Center
January 28th through May 6th, 2018.
About the Exhibit:
As a collector of materials and stories from human, natural and cultural landscapes, BENNY FERDMAN’s artwork juxtaposes and reinterprets these images and tales to reclaim wonder in everyday life. Cook-Up a Soup And Other Tales is a collection of Ferdman’s adventurous reclamation and reworking of Jewish iconography, folk motifs and works drawn from diverse narratives and East European Jewish culture, that once expressed itself in Yiddish. Raised in Los Angeles by Polish-Jewish immigrants, Yiddish was Ferdman’s first language. He has lived, studied and worked in Boston, New York, New Mexico, France, California and Israel...
“Opkochen a Zup!” is about the big soup or as Ferdman says, “the soup of life into which we’ve all been tossed-and-rolled around on boiling waves, sometimes grabbing hold of a bleeding beet, riding on the back of a big bean, caressing a carrot, or poked in the eye by a prankster parsnip. In this very crowded pot, we meet and gather and then scatter, as the pot gets stirred and spilled into a bowl and consumed with a satisfying slurp!”
– Fern Wallach, Curator