The Hillel Mural and Sculpture Club, a new organization
dedicated to creating art on campus, unveiled its first finished
projects Friday at “Mural Shabbat,” an evening
dedicated to displaying the religious artwork of students.

The pieces are only the beginning for the group, which consists
of Hillel members and Art and Design students. The group plans to
create secular art in the future and is also accumulating donations
of work that can be displayed on Central Campus.

“What I’d like to do from here on is I currently
have a board of 11 dedicated people together, we’re planning
to create art installations all over campus,” said group
President David Landau, an LSA freshman.

Landau said next semester the club will place art in East Quad
Residence Hall and tentatively in the Michigan Union, Michigan
League, Pierpont Commons and Chemistry Building. “We are
trying to raise as much support as we can. Our goals are we want to
create high-quality public art to beautify the campus.”
Landau said.

He added that the art pieces will not change the
buildings’ current aesthetic motifs.

“If we were doing a piece for the Union, then the pieces
would reflect the Union’s current decor – it
wouldn’t change the buildings, it would add to them,”
he said.

The 15 religiously themed paintings that are now hanging in the
cafeteria and upper floor of Hillel Center were commemorated with a
mural-unveiling ceremony following Shabbat service.

Two four by 16 foot murals, and one four by 12 foot mural, were
painted with bright colors and creative designs, illuminating two
of the once-blank walls. The other two walls are covered with
similarly imaginative works capturing notions of spirituality and
unity.

The three main large murals, themed “Creation,”
“Exodus,” and “The Garden of Eden,” were
done in Art and Design lecturer Amanda Miller’s class. The
class worked with the mural and sculpture club, Landau said.

“Her class did a phenomenal job combining skills to create
the larger murals,” Landau said.

Miller said the project was a good opportunity to have students
showcase their art in public, and that she plans to work with
Landau’s group in the future.

“This was a set commission by Hillel, (with) David as the
liaison, that I turned into a class assignment. We went to Hillel
and the cafeteria and did research on what the themes could be. We
made sketches, submitted them to Hillel and painted. It’s a
good opportunity for students to get their work in a permanent
setting,” Miller said.

Art and Design sophomore Geoff Silverstien said he was excited
to have worked on the project.

“I helped work on the mural (of the) seven days of
creation. I was in a class that did a number of the larger
paintings. It was a nice way to get work out and give people
something to look at. Having quality art work around can really
help make a space more interesting,” Silverstien said.

Students said the paintings have made the room, which is used
for celebratory activities such as Shabbat Dinner and Israeli folk
dancing, more lively and appropriate for such occasions.

“I like how the art work has a Jewish component to it
— it’s not just any artwork. People coming can relate
to it. That room is used for meals, people come down and eat on
Friday and after service,” LSA junior Kim Newstadt said.

LSA senior Rachel Rose said that her time in the room will now
be more enjoyable.

“I’ve been here for almost four years and this room
is really plain. It’s known to be empty, just crying for some
artwork. It’s exciting now they they’ve finally put art
here. (It) makes this room as lively and colorful as the people in
it,” Rose said.

Hillel Program Director Ben Berger said the room typically draws
in between 100 and 200 people for Shabbat dinner on Fridays, and
between 40 and 60 students daily who are on kosher meal plans.

“We serve hundreds of meals to students on campus. The
murals really liven up the room. Response by students has been
overwhelmingly positive,” Berger said.

He added that funding secured by Landau has enabled the group to
provide free supplies for any student who wants to work with it,
either for Hillel or for art work that will be placed around
campus.

Landau said so far primary collaborators with the Mural and
Sculpture Club include the Residential College, the School of Art
and Design, LSA Student Government, and Arts at Michigan, an
organization on campus that creates connections between students
and different forms of art.

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