‘Fragile Beauty’ exhibition connects Jewish artists with the environment

Garrett Gardner

Miami, identified for its lively nightlife, bustling art scene and wonderful seashores, is also floor zero for sea amount rise. With the identical vigor, metropolis officers are scrambling to uncover ways to elevate houses, create earthen berms and erect tall sea walls, when at the same time arranging a weeklong showcase of creative excellence — creating it the best location for an exhibition of three artists whose function calls attention to the issues experiencing the surroundings.

Mira Lehr, Lauren Shapiro and Beatriz Chachamovits are no strangers to the dichotomy. Independently, the 3 Florida-based mostly artists build items that merge the natural beauty of nature with its severe realities, but have occur collectively to paint an even far more potent picture with their latest joint exhibition, “Fragile Splendor.”

Displaying by means of April at the Jewish Museum of Florida in Miami Beach front, “Fragile Beauty” brings together the trio’s personal functions into a larger sized message about the adjustments occurring to the world and its having difficulties ecosystems. The exhibition had its official opening on Dec. 4, the remaining day of Miami Beach’s once-a-year Art Week.

The 7-working day party, which this 12 months culminated in the 20th anniversary of Art Basel Miami Beach before this month at the Miami Seashore Conference Center, brings local and international artists with each other for a celebration of operates together the city’s shoreline.

However their collaboration was put with each other by the museum, Lehr, Shapiro and Chachamovits are delighted to be spreading their message jointly.

“Women have been believed of as nurturing, which matches in so very well with the thought of safeguarding the planet. I am incredibly delighted to be demonstrating with two other feminine artists who are sensitive to the environment and who are supporting concentrate interest on it and help defend it,” Lehr explained to Jewish Insider.

“As females, we have a far more organic relationship with the earth just due to the fact of how our body is, how we imagine, how our course of action is,” Chachamovits informed JI. “We give beginning, our overall body adjustments just like mother nature itself to make anything new, and that partnership is definitely deep. So in a way, a few woman artists that are performing in the similar purpose, [coming] alongside one another to produce an exhibition, I feel that it always tends to make the voice louder of the circumstance that desires to be dealt with or seen…that’s ultimately, I imagine, what we all want to see, the change that we’re asking for.”


Lehr, who was featured in two other exhibitions throughout Artwork Week Miami Beach front in addition to “Fragile Natural beauty,” has been a well known figure in the artwork world for about 5 many years. At 87, her function has proven in above 300 solo and team exhibitions, and been showcased in museums and galleries across the nation, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Artwork in New York City and the Smithsonian Museum of American Art in D.C. She’s been profiled by the Miami Herald, New York Times and is the topic of a vocation-spanning monograph Mira Lehr: Arc of Mother nature.

Lehr’s career, nevertheless, has not been without its worries. Born in Brooklyn but elevated in Miami, Lehr remembers the antisemitism she confronted after moving from central to northern Miami Seashore, which was predominantly Christian.

Mira Lehr (Picture: News Travels Fast)

“I was asked the 1st working day of college what my faith was and when I replied ‘Jewish,’ a bunch of little ones explained, ‘Oh my God, a different a single!’ When strolling dwelling from college, a child shot a bobby pin into my ear and stated, ‘Let’s get rid of the Jews,’” she recalled.

Although ordeals like people made Lehr “frightened and pretty aware of being a minority,” she added that they also produced her far more empathetic, empowering her to combat for social results in like climate transform and reasonable publicity for girls in the arts.

In 1960, Lehr co-started Continuum in Miami Seaside, a co-op gallery aimed towards highlighting feminine artists — Lehr told Hamptons Art Hub that in the Southeast at the time, ladies in art were all but disregarded. 

“We all hated becoming in this article,” she informed Hamptons Artwork Hub in 2015. “This was the boonies, no one paid out notice. Getting a woman artist at that time was tough. I believed, ‘I’m just carrying out this for the reason that I appreciate when I’m understanding. Whatever comes about, happens.’”

Out Front Journal described Continuum to be a “space for girls to discover and expand their function on the realms of development.” The gallery shut in the early ‘90s following functioning for 30 decades.

A self-described eco-feminist, Lehr’s 1st forray into working with art for environmental awareness was in 1969, when she was picked out, along with 1 other artist, to assist in Buckminster Fuller’s “World Game” world sustainability project.

“​​Fuller’s ‘Spaceship Earth’ vision was about the earth getting a finite quantity of methods, which can not be resupplied,” Lehr reported. “This was a 12 months before the very initial Earth Working day was celebrated in 1970, and it was the yr we despatched a mission to the moon. I acquired about joined and interconnected units, which underscored the need to secure the earth, the necessity of guarding the planet’s resources, and of placing our energies in direction of carrying out extra with much less.”  

“As I have made my way in this world, remaining Jewish has made me additional delicate to functioning on matter issue that encourages the message of wholeness, justice and peace. I have found, and continue on to take a look at my voice, and talk up for doing what is ideal. Cherishing and guarding the environment is a little something that is ‘right,’” Lehr reported.

Lehr has a few items presently on screen as portion of “Fragile Beauty”: “Sacred Goals,” which was donated to the museum as a lasting installation, “Mangrove Sculptures” and “Below the Surface.”

“Mangrove Sculptures” by Mira Lehr. (Photograph: News Travels Rapidly)

“The suspended resins of the significant-scale aerial set up ‘Sacred Dreams’ are lit by the attractive stained glass home windows all all-around and bathed in the purely natural daylight that streams in, making an ethereal experience. The strength and interconnected roots of the ‘Mangrove Sculptures’ set up, together with the luminous, swirling electricity of ‘Below the Surface,’ blend to evoke an appreciation of the connection amongst air, earth and water,” Lehr claimed.

“These will work hopefully induce viewers to not only reflect on the construction and integrity of the items, but to develop their wondering about structure, integrity, and cohesion of the world,” she included.


Shapiro, an artist-in-residence at the Bakehouse Artwork Sophisticated in Miami, started doing the job with sculpture in excess of 15 decades back while getting her Bachelor of Wonderful Arts diploma from Florida Atlantic University. The 38-12 months-previous went on to get a master’s in ceramics from the College of Miami. Her function has been showcased in a quantity of solo and group exhibitions, and has obtained quite a few awards, which includes a grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts in 2019. She has appeared in publications these types of as the Miami Herald and Architectural Digest

Combining artwork, science and technology, Shapiro makes her operate together with ecologists, understanding from them and subsequently serving to “communicate their analysis to the public” by means of her installations.

Lauren Shapiro (Courtesy)

“If you look at my get the job done, you’ll see a good deal of geometry and designs and repetition scenarios, and these are all mostly encouraged by the concealed geometries that you see in mother nature and the plan that everything is linked,” Shapiro instructed JI.

“My pieces for the exhibit are a new sequence of objects that include some of these 3D scans of corals that were being loaned by researchers in the field…and they’re sort of hand-crafted with these geometries and these objects that when you convert on a light-weight they illuminate, so they’re truly light-weight sculptures,” she reported.

For Shapiro, presenting her do the job at the Jewish Museum of Florida felt like a reconnecting of kinds to the group she grew up in as a boy or girl. 

“I grew up with a more traditional family, I experienced a bat mitzvah, been to Israel, I was incredibly substantially built-in with the Jewish group when I was more youthful,” she said. “Then as I have gotten older, I kind of have not been as concerned in lots of, a lot of many years,so it’s pleasant to form of be in touch with my roots, specially for artwork. This is the to start with time I’ve ever completed just about anything like this for this neighborhood, so, it variety of makes me come to feel at property.”

Although her exhibition sculptures, a collection of “Crystal Coral Lamps,” make use of the methods she has become identified for, Shapiro’s desire in the surroundings began a lot previously.

“I was born and elevated in South Florida, and we expended a large amount of time outdoors in mother nature, and mother nature has always been variety of a prevalent topic in my perform as a expert artist,” Shapiro said.

Since then, she has traveled to areas like Brazil and French Polynesia to study about their ecosystems, but is at this time centered on bringing focus to ecological variations occurring nearer to home.

“When I obtained out of grad college, I desired to just take that vocabulary that I produced and flip my lens on to the better landscape of Miami, and to kind of pondering about the issues that we’re facing right here,” Shapiro explained. “We’re floor zero for sea level rise. Our town is designed basically on zero ft of sea degree, so we’re gonna go underneath, or alternatively nature’s gonna commence using back again the beach, basically. I’m truly fascinated in how persons and character can stay much more in tandem, extra in harmony, due to the fact no person needs to reside in a barren wasteland. Everybody wishes character around us, so pondering about how we can critically solve problems and come together to form of advocate for these kinds of challenges.”

“Crystal Coral Lamps” installation (Photo: Pedro Wazzan)

Shapiro clarified that her “Fragile Beauty” installation is not a contact to motion — as some of her other people have been — but intended to encourage folks “to make perform, or to make art, or to be inventive, or to use creativity.”

“I feel people today get incredibly overcome when they feel about weather improve. They experience like they’re helpless,” she reported.

“Art has the electrical power to inspire individuals and harness people’s thoughts, for the reason that individuals really don’t care about matters that they really don’t realize. Or fairly, they do not comprehend issues they don’t care about, and vice versa. So when persons see something that evokes them or can make them come to feel one thing, they are extra apt to treatment about it and want to secure it,” Shapiro extra.


Initially from São Paulo, Brazil, Chachamovits moved to Miami 4 decades in the past. Her perform has appeared in various solo and group exhibits, like at the Nationwide Museum of Rio de Janeiro, and has been showcased in Vogue and Countrywide Geographic’s education and learning system. She is the receiver of an artist grant from The Village of Pinecrest, and wrote and illustrated a handbook of maritime lifestyle. 

“Beatriz and I have identified each other for several a long time and we’re excellent mates,” Shapiro mentioned of sharing an exhibition with Chachamovits, a fellow resident at Bakehouse. “She’s assisted me in some of the installations that I have finished when she to start with bought to Miami a couple yrs back, and I’ve assisted her with some of her things as properly. We share a good deal of commonalities, prevalent close friends and popular themes in our operate, so her and I are pretty shut.”

Beatriz Chachamovits introducing her set up “To Eliminate with Water” all through the opening of “Fragile Beauty” at the Jewish Museum of Florida. (Courtesy)

“Working with Lauren is constantly amazing,” Chachamovits, 36, agreed. “This is not the to start with exhibition that we [have shown] jointly as very well, and so acquiring her and obtaining this in our life, I adore it. I enjoy [it] mainly because we’re both ceramicists, we’re each environmentally oriented artists — she has her own way of accomplishing things and I have my individual way of executing factors, but the way that that sum arrives alongside one another, it is actually highly effective. So, just about every time that we have a likelihood of doing the job alongside one another or just exhibiting alongside one another I bounce at it, since I believe that in quite a few techniques our perform complements every single other and it creates an exponential comprehending of the procedure and all the [problems] that [are] going on in the ecosystem.”

Chachamovits’ artwork focuses on the decrease of the earth’s coral reefs — with individual consideration to what scientists say are their a few primary leads to of deterioration: coral bleaching, ocean acidification and plastic pollution — a trigger she pretty much swam on.

Although sketching seaweed around the island of Ilha de Boipeba for the duration of a vacation by means of Bahia in Northern Brazil, a stranger arrived up to Chachamovits and requested if she had at any time drawn the island’s corals, bringing out a pair of snorkels and giving to present them to her.

“​​He took me to this other seaside, and we dove into the ocean and went to this section of the ocean that is loaded with rocks, pretty close to the coast…he pushed me into the ocean and shoved me inside of of this tiny tiny cave, and this cave was the most magical, most superb matter I have ever viewed in my lifetime,” Chachamovits recalled. “It experienced little openings on the roof so the light of the sun would shine via it, revealing and obscuring lights and designs and varieties. The cave was like 360-coated in corals and tiny fishes swimming from aspect to facet. I could see a spotted ray just laying on the sand in the base and little critters moving around…that day changed me forever. I was so astonished by the magnificence and the styles and the textures and the sort and the motion, and how harmonious almost everything was and connected to just about every other – that interconnectivity that comes about inside of of the blue ocean that is so visible. It really strike a nerve, and when I bought out of it I was like, ‘Why isn’t anybody conversing about this?’” 

“We expended the complete day going in and out of that cave, and he took me to a different spot to see greater corals…and that altered me without end in these types of a deep way that I felt, simply because of this working experience and mainly because of this sensation that I had inside of me, I felt like that is my life’s reason. If no a person is talking about it, I’m heading to discuss about it,” she extra.

Born to a Jewish loved ones, Chachamovits mused that it will make sense she would be drawn to the ocean — and extra exclusively corals — having occur from these types of an interconnected group.

“A coral in itself is a bunch of polyps joined collectively to sort a currently being, and I feel like that represents really a great deal what Jewish tradition is,” she claimed. “We all appear collectively to kind a even bigger body, a larger understanding, a bigger local community, and in that sense…I’m seeing really this connection amongst the ocean surroundings and the interdependence and the symbiosis that exists, that is so vivid and is so potent, inside of of the ocean.”

“Maybe that is what introduced me so near to it, simply because I felt that in my whole lifetime. I felt that symbiosis, I felt that interdependence, I felt that collectivism and the communal part of it. And so, in that perception I would say that there’s a very clear bridge concerning what is a coral and what is a Jewish local community,” Chachamovits additional.

“Being Jewish is something that is beyond you. It’s your id. When you are Jewish you will always be Jewish, there is very little or no one particular or everything that can get that absent from you,” Chachamovits said.

Her “Fragile Beauty” installation, “To Kill With H2o,” is a performative piece designed up of three aquariums in distinct levels of acidification. The to start with incorporates a collection of clay-primarily based coral sculptures. The next has the exact sculptures, which Chachamovits will cover with drinking water — the clay will dissolve slowly more than time, mirroring the influence ocean acidification has on the world’s coral reefs. The third aquarium includes shapeless mounds of clay in murky h2o, acidification’s final phase.

“To Destroy with Water” prior to acidification. (Photograph: Beatriz Chachamovits)

“I feel like 1 of my most significant roles is to plant a seed of really like for the ocean,” Chachamovits reported. “I seriously want folks to have an understanding of that the way that we wander about the earth and the way we walk about our life, and the decisions we make, all of them affect our natural environment.”

“I would adore for individuals to have an understanding of, in the deepest way, that we’re all related to the drinking water and we all require the ocean to exist and to survive [on] this world. There is no life without the need of drinking water, and corals are the most important and most fragile ecosystem that we have, for the reason that they hold 25{5a5867cc9cca71cf546db38f42fbf171004839e3542174405390d177276b4f49} of all lifetime in the ocean and they’re much less than 1{5a5867cc9cca71cf546db38f42fbf171004839e3542174405390d177276b4f49} of coverage in the complete ocean. So it’s an significant detail for us to know how gorgeous, magical and significant they are,” she included.

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