Dwelling Place Interactive Public Art Installed at MECA in October

Community Celebration Hosted on October 18 at 12:30pm at MECA’s Green Space on Casco Street

Maine College Of Art, in conjunction with Southern Maine Hillel, is sponsoring Dwelling Place, an Interactive Public Art Installation by Asherah Cinnamon ’08, at the MECA Green Space (at the corner of Casco and Shepley Streets), in Portland, Maine, from October 16 through October 29. A reception and cultural/religious celebration will be held at 12:30pm on October 18 (rain date is 12:30pm October 21), featuring Klezmer music by Rabbi Sruli Dresdner and Lisa Mayer. This event is for students, faculty, staff, and community members from MECA, as well as from the University of New England, the University of Southern Maine, and Southern Maine Community College.

Dwelling Place is a sculpture, a dwelling place for spirit, and a structure in which to celebrate the ancient tradition of Sukkot. There are many themes contained in this celebration: it is a significant time to reconnect with the Earth and the Elements, and to remember that not everyone in our community, even today, has a permanent home, safe from weather or human aggression and indifference. Like the ancient Jewish people in the desert and like all refugees worldwide, the structure is strong, but vulnerable to many forces.

The Jewish holiday of Sukkot (Festival of Booths) takes place from October 16-23 this year. As a Biblical and cultural holiday, Jews celebrate by building temporary structures, reminiscent of their ancestors’ lives as they escaped from slavery in ancient Egypt and wandered the desert for 40 years. “Dwelling Place” means a sukkah or booth. There are many rules that pertain to creating a kosher sukkah, including how many walls the structure must have and how much of the sky one can see from within. The term kosher means something is suitable for observant religious practice, or according to Biblical rules.

Artist Asherah Cinnamon received her BFA degree from MECA in 2008. Dwelling Place was designed and built by her in 2011 with support from the Linda and Joel Abromson Award, which is presented annually by the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine. It has been installed annually since then, at the University of New England Gallery, The Maine Jewish Museum, on the campus of SMCC, and twice at USM. It’s seventh and final installation will take place in fall of 2017.

Ariel Bernstein, Director of the Southern Maine Hillel, says “The sukkah will provide a visual invitation and access for students and the community to participate in this Jewish tradition.” Southern Maine Hillel is a project of the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine; its mission it is to build and support Jewish community locally at MECA, SMCC, UNE, and USM, as well as in Israel and throughout the world. For more information about the Dwelling Place event, email Ariel Bernstein, the JCA, or MECA.

In the second and final stage of installation, the schach, a traditional fresh cut tree branch that forms the roof of the structure, will be installed Sunday, October 16, at 1pm, just before the beginning of the holiday of Sukkot. Students, faculty, and staff are invited to participate in the holiday by helping to install the sukkah at MECA’s Green Space on either of two Sundays: October 9th or October 16 and students are encouraged to help with the take down the structure on Sunday, October 30. Contact Southern Maine Hillel, MECA, or Asherah Cinnamon for details.

This program was made possible in part by a grant from Reform on Campus.