We have followed the career, and plight, of artist Ella Rozenberg since the Israeli-Gaza War in 2014, when we visited her studio and wrote about it here. As an art teacher in Ashkelon, on the Israeli side of the border with Gaza, she has seen war close up and personal. Our favorite part from our initial interview with Ella was her telling us about taking the children to hide in the bathroom when the rockets started falling.
But Ella is unique, she is trying to make something good of the tragedy of the conflict, and started a foundation, Art Unlimited, to promote Israeli artists across the world. And I mean literally, across the world. Here is a report on one the group’s recent showing in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Below is a recent interview with Ella Rozenberg we conducted while visiting her studio once again in Ashkelon in the summer of 2018. This was before the rockets and mayhem again began to reign down on her city from Hamas in Gaza.
What was the purpose (intent) of establishing the charity Foundation “Art Unlimited”? What is your role?
I’m not only the chairman of “Art Unlimited” but the curator as well. Mostly curators are not artists, so I have one significant advantage – as an artist, I’m familiar with all the aspirations and difficulties of my colleagues, that is why I can do my job better than anybody else. This confidence pushed me to establish our Foundation “Art Unlimited”. My dream was to create my own small and beautiful world full of light, kindness, beauty and love.
What does your Foundation do?
We help talented representatives of creative professions (artists) to publicly represent their work and creativity here in Israel, and abroad, regardless of their origin, religion, place of residence, financial status and age.
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What are your achievements over the past 4 years? Did you found your organization in Ashkelon?
Yes, we did. We started working on our art projects in the ancient city Ashkelon-the birthplace of Samson and Delilah. It was here that our Association was founded and made its first steps. Then we expanded our activities throughout the country: Jerusalem, Haifa, Tel Aviv, Beer Neve and we especially advanced over the last two years with the start of our international art and music project “Love Only” which takes place in different cities and countries of the world.
Where do you find the money to implement these projects?
We asked for the help from the municipality of Ashkelon but unfortunately we were rejected . Despite this, we carry out the work with the projects. There are small subsidies from private persons, artists themselves and also a great help is provided by volunteers agreeing to work for free promoting our projects.
In the end i would like to ask you , how did you become an artist ? Is it easy?
If a person decides to become an artist, he faces an eternal dilemma: whether to make money or to make art. I have made a long way from poverty in the early years of emigration [from Georgia in the Soviet Union] to today’s material well-being trying to reconcile the incompatible: work for money or the passionate desire to be an artist. I made my choice and it wasn’t easy one.
What are you dreaming of?
We would love to expand our Foundation throughout the world in different countries and cities to help artists realize their talent so they could adequately exist using their gift so that art could feed them . To achieve this, society must learn to consume spiritual nourishment (food), and buy real art, not cheap copies, and most importantly teach consumers to distinguish between real and fake.
What do you think artists should teach the younger generation?
I believe that having a sense of vision is important not only to see but also to contemplate and create and as the result to teach our youth to create their unique world. An artist can be a representative of any profession if you treat your work creatively. And more over art teaches empathy and how to feel and this is a very important quality of personality in our rational age. No technological progress can replace the work of the soul. It is the presence of the soul, the sensitivity and the ability to empathize that makes us human and creative.