Art Amid the Shadow of War

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“The students’ works relfect internal expression of prayer, pain, lament and liberation”: From the Dance Track’s final production

The Ann Belsky Moranis Arts Program at OTS’s Katz-Oriya High School for Girls in Gush Etzion encourages students to express themselves and explore the areas close to their heart through the world of creativity. Over the course of April, the school its annual arts showcase evenings across various disciplines, revealing the indelible mark left by the tumultous events since October 7th through the students’ visceral responses to the ongoing conflict.

“In a year where reality has been turned upside down and war has become a daily part of our lives, we wonder – to what extent can we continue creating as usual?” shares principal Yonat Lemberger. “The muses may be silenced by cannons, so to speak; the anxiety and challenges can be paralyzing. But the power of creation also holds the ability to heal and restore,” she says, “and this year, the students’ works reflect internal expression of prayer, pain, lament and liberation.”

Indeed, many of the pieces drew directly from the students’ personal experiences navigating the upheaval wrought by war. Amana Rabi, a dance major whose family moved south to Kibbutz Sa’ad last summer, created the work “Homeland,” influenced by the confusion and disruption her family faced on the morning of October 7th, as well as by a poem her brother wrote reflecting on the trauma of being “disassembled into parts.”

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“The Wandering Jew”

Similarly, Roni Shimoni’s installation “The Wandering Jew” was inspired by her family’s hasty evacuation from the north. “On October 7th, the lives of hundreds of thousands changed – some had to flee their homes quickly, while others had no homes to return to,” Roni reflects. “The suitcase became the closest physical symbol of home for those who have been displaced.”

Other works grappled with the broader emotional and psychological impact of the war. Nili Imber’s life-size self-portrait, “Medical Plasters on Wood,” used layers of bandages to represent how “we are built from our experiences and crises.” And Lial Cohen’s sculptural installation “When Something Breaks” expressed the sense of national and personal fracturing, with broken vessels containing the names of fallen soldiers.

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From the Theater Track’s production “Black on White”

Beyond personal narratives, some pieces aimed to convey deeper messages. The theater students’ performance of Ephraim Kishon’s “Dawn on a White Roof” used a parable of clashing mouse families to reflect Israel’s societal divisions – until a common enemy forces them to recognize their shared humanity. “We basically forgot what unites us until the outside threat came, reminding us that our differences are ultimately trivial,” the students shared.

Similarly, Yaara Kornfeld’s paintings in “Getting Used to You Again” explored the complex transition from the battlefield to domestic life faced by returning soldiers and their families. “We expect the soldier to simply ‘go back to normal,’ but the experiences and pace of war do not match the home front,” she observed.

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“Attention!” – Support App for soldiers with PTSD designed by students in the Graphics Track

Amid the pain and turmoil, however, glimmers of hope and resilience also emerged. Students Miri Yodelman and Noya Rozman designed a support app called “Attention!” to assist soldiers struggling with post-traumatic stress – reflecting a desire to actively help the wounded.

Ultimately, the school’s art showcases this year served as a powerful testament to the human capacity for creativity, connection and healing, even in the darkest of times. As Principal Lemberger affirms, “The students’ works reveal an honest and profound response to the realities we face.”

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