Skirball Harvest Festival, Los Angeles, October 2019: Creative Ways was invited by the Skirball Cultural Center to provide an array of programs for their annual festival celebrating the Fall harvest and the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. We imagined a warm and welcoming space that inspired families to create something new from the bounty of the season. Benny designed and built a giant Samovar tea urn that dispensed 4 custom blends of tea and generated conversation and community. We invited families to create herbal dream pillows painted with home-made plant and vegetable dyes, and make metal amulets and handmade stamps to decorate the Sukkah. Partnering with Jacob Ferdman and Isis Walls from the Five Finger Farms, families created custom herbal tea blends and participated in The DIY Herbal Kitchen- a vibrant workshop providing instruction and inspiration in how to create your own fermented and herb infused foods.
KlezKanada Summer Retreat: In August of 2019 Benny led visual arts workshops at KlezKanada’s retreat in Quebec’s Laurentian Mountains. In Yiddish Goes into the Wild, participants made art exploring stories where Yiddish encountered old and new living landscapes –from the dense Polish pine forests, to the myth-filled deserts of the land of Israel, to the vast and wild lands of the American southwest, to the Laurentian Mountains where we gathered. Through poetry, personal narrative and art making, we explored the untold stories of life in the old world, new world, and other far-flung lands, through the lens of Yiddish speaking eyes. Participants created block prints and watercolors, culminating in a collaborative installation. In addition, Benny presented The Art of Encounter—or The Crow Looks Backward and Other Stories--a gallery talk about his work, and participated in Art Out of the Archives, a conversation facilitated by Evelyn Tauben exploring artistic projects that engage deeply with archival materials – bringing them to life or reinterpreting them in dynamic new ways.
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