Shira Ballon, 25, Palo Alto, CA
UC Irvine, Studio Art
Track: Jerusalem Arts WUJS Arts
See her work: Jerusalem Artist's
My inspiration mostly comes from working, and from conversations with people that have interesting things to say. Being in Israel/the Middle East, of course, provides a great amount of visual stimulation - patterns in the rock look like things I've been painting for years, as though I had remembered them from a past life or something, and seeing that makes me want to paint more.
The city is loud, and dirty, and crammed with stuff and people, and the desert is quiet and expansive. The intensity of politics and culture is monumental. When you can't understand a language it's just sounds and shapes - It's never-ending here. But I never really believed in waiting for inspiration from things like that, they help, no doubt, they are all part of what you think about everyday. But it turns out my inspiration mostly comes from working, from seeing what happens, and from conversations with people that have interesting things to say.
How did you hear about this WUJS Israel program?
When I would daydream about the future I would often search the internet for Israel programs, and this one jumped out at me because of the art program, which I hadn't found elsewhere. Find out more @ Masa: WUJS Arts Program
What are your goals for this WUJS Arts program?
I hope to get a lot. I hope to gain some focus in my work and personal growth, I hope to get a firm grasp on the Hebrew language, I hope to spend some (more) time in the desert, and develop relationships with people who I can learn from and who can learn from me.
What opportunities are taking advantage of while on the Arts program in Jerusalem?
A group of us went to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art for the opening of the Sigalit Landau show, that was fantastic. The museum is beautiful and the work was stunning. There have also been other street fairs and concerts in Jerusalem; free jazz at the Yellow Submarine, there is always something, its great.
What type of work will you display at the WUJS Arts final exhibit?
I paint and draw so my work will consist mainly of 2D pieces, but I've started to work with very basic video, just a little. So that might work its way in.
What classes are you taking while in the Arts program?
Besides Ulpan, I'm taking a course on Kabbalah and our Art class, Art and Israel. Both are great and I wish I had them twice as often. I didn't previously know very much about Israeli art and art history and Ofra's lectures, speakers, activities, etc - metzuyan.
What did your friends say when you told them about your plan to come to Israel?
I don't really have any Jewish friends in Chicago, so there was definitely more to explain and more reassuring to do regarding safety. In general though, they thought it was really cool and wouldn't shut up about it. As long as I don't make aliyah.
Have you had any difficulties settling in?
The first day I was at a grocery store, wasn't even buying anything just looking around, and then I walked through the Emergency exit door on my way out. Shame.
Check out more of her artwork Flickr: Shira Ballon's Photostream