"Negev, open wide the arms of your steppes, your vast expanses, to the land-thirsty, because today we come to you, to enter with you into a covenant of life and deed."
From Mitzpe Gvulot’s founding charter, 1943
Years have passed since David Ben Gurion's vision of populating the Negev desert came to fruition as the first communities were established. The ethos of creation "ex nihlo” has informed the region's unique culture and art life. The artists whose works are featured in the exhibition all live and work in the south, south of the bustling metropolis of Tel Aviv.
In the foyer, Shootzi and Liron Gavish created an installation out of wood pieces collected from nearby carpentries which come together to represent the mythical Phoenix. This desert-dwelling bird, myth has it, lives for a thousand years; when it reaches the end of its days it builds a nest out of cinnamon twigs, wails a lament, sets fire to the nest and bursts into flames. From the ashes, it arises anew.
The motif of the Negev landscape recurs through many of the exhibits. Yona Levy Grossman, among the evacuees from the Sinai settlement of Yamit, is painting the landscapes she was forced to leave behind, as well as those among which she made her new home. Shula Fremder takes the viewer into the world of local colors and flora. In Laura Behar's paper art, made from wild local herbs and plants, the Negev landscape is, too, a major source of inspiration.
Zohar Morag draws on her childhood photographs, conjuring up old images, words, and feelings in her paintings, giving them new life. It is through the image, whether etched on metal or engraved on wood, that the intangible becomes tangible.
Judith Meyer set up her home and studio in Beersheba, the capital of the Negev, following the belief that ceramic artists ought to live and work where the raw materials for their work are found. Meyer, who is working with different types of materials found in the Negev, draws the inspiration for her formal experiments from her lengthy excursions through its expanses. Meyer serves as curator of Negev Museum of Art in Beersheba, which is home to many artists working in the city.
The artists exhibited are: David Goldstein, Anna Dan, Yona Levy Grossman, Zohar Morag, Eva Shalev and Liron Gavish and Shootzi. The artists affiliated with the Negev Museum of Art in Beersheba are Suzanne Eilat, Laura Behar, Enrique Veis, Shulamit Davidovich, Moti Deriel, Michael Lifel, Yehudit Meir, Shula Fremder, Oren Raz and Gidon Shani.
The works are displayed in all areas of the hotel, including the public spaces and 50 guestrooms.