Brandeis Today

Summer 2023 Art in Action at Brandeis

Last week, Bay Area artist Ron Moultrie Saunders, artist and landscape architect, visited Brandeis and spent two days with the second, seventh, and eighth grade students making art. Ron was invited to Brandeis by faculty member and artist Rebekah Goldstein who shares studio space with him at Minnesota Street Project Studio in the Dogpatch area of San Francisco. Rebekah is overseeing the Art in Action Visiting Artist Program established through the generosity of the late Al “Bumpy” Friedman z”l, grandparent of Brandeis alumnae Elie ‘20, Noa ‘20, Emma '20,  and Nathan Friedman-Lowenthal. Al’s dedication to his own artistic practice of sculpting stone which he took up in his 60’s was important to him and brought a great deal of joy to his life. He wanted to share that joy with our students.
The Art in Action Program aims to enrich the educational experience of our students by exposing them to art that responds to contemporary social issues. It creates opportunities to connect the work in the classroom to the world around us, through the lens of a specific artist. Through this program our students engage with artists who demonstrate a commitment to social or environmental justice and explore how those ideals are tied to Brandeis’ community values - ometz lev, tikkun olam, and chesed. Furthermore, the aims of this program expose students to how artists respond to contemporary issues and problems in the world and raise awareness to those issues, how they are creative change makers, and how they can create community through art.

Ron began his multi-day visit by sharing a presentation of his artwork with the students while talking about how he makes his photograms, which are photographs that are made without the use of a camera. Later students moved to the art room where they created a canvas of found objects to imprint their artistic silhouettes using sunlight on cyanotype paper.  
When the second graders surveyed the results of their labor, they marveled and delighted in the creative process and took time to remark on the artwork of fellow classmates who inspired them. It is obvious our students are learning a lot about themselves through their art-making. They discover the importance of self-expression and learn how to transpose their thinking into a visual representation of the many ways they see the world.
There is beauty in the way we approach art, unraveling the miraculous ways our minds work, finding connections, and engaging in dialogue to discover greater universal truths. That experience and process is what donor Al “Bumpy” Friedman cherished and wanted to share with our students at Brandeis. We are grateful to Al and to donors Barbara and Ron Kaufman, grandparents of Brandeis alumnae Olivia '16 and Anna Perlman '16 who continue to invest significantly with a major gift each year to support the Arts Program at Brandeis.
Our community members and families past and present play a significant role in sustaining a culture of giving and engagement at our school and collectively your generosity makes an important impact on the lives of our students. Simply put, our health as an institution relies heavily upon the philanthropy of our entire community. As we close another school year, I am heartened, grateful, and encouraged by the success of our various campaigns and the willingness of each family at Brandeis to play a part in our school’s success.
Thank you to the late Bumpy Friedman and to Barbara and Ron Kaufman whose gifts fuel the creative spirits of 336 students in the 2022-2023 school year. We are endlessly grateful to be blessed with talented art teachers who take our students on the journey of not just making art but also introducing them to the history of art and bringing them into conversation with working artists. What a gift to our students and our school!