Artist Chen Shapira reflects on art's change making power in exhibit "Lines of Flight"

Story by RCAH student Christina Igl.

The RCAH LookOut! Art Gallery’s latest exhibit, “Lines of Flight,” showcases artist and teacher, Chen Shapira’s ink on paper series that focuses on the many Israeli perspectives present in today’s Israel. Shapira is a multidisciplinary artist who also practices socially engaged art.

Shapira, reflecting on his initial involvement in socially engaged art stated, “The experience of working in art schools and being in art institutes made me realize the need for a change of paradigms; the need for collaboration, for defining mutual goals rather than competition and individualism.”

Community-based artwork, Shapira says, “…feels right when there is a real collaboration with people who are willing to make a change, creating a sense of solidarity. Then, community-based art work can be used as a positive form of active citizenship, as a tool for change making. We can see it as a collaborative form of expression.”

The “Lines of Flight” series emphases Shapira’s excitement for change making through expression by raising questions about contemporary Israeli symbols and imagery as well as the ideas of borders  and ownership. His method of building his artwork with layers of watercolor and ink mimics the “genuine world” and “life’s reality.” Shapira says, “You cannot erase watercolor; you have to go on with your mistakes and build the next layer in a dialog with those ‘mistakes.’”

For Shapira, the process is as important as the final work. “[The process] is continuous [and] allows one to go back and forth, to contemplate, to reflect,” he says. This mindfulness is evident in his paintings as each one has a completely unique message as Shapira explained during the September 29 reception held at the LookOut! Art Gallery. He described the depth of his artistic considerations while giving an artist leads walk-through of the exhibit.

“I try not to make statements, but to raise questions,” Shapira says, “Some questions are personal and intimate and some are more public and are about solidarity, about society and culture, about humanity.”  

The exhibition is open from September 26 through October 21, 2016. For more information about the 2016-2017 LookOut! Art Gallery schedule, visit the RCAH events calendar.