In Houghton House Gallery, the beauty slated for display is imported directly from Israel — by way of a Hobart alum and HWS staff member. On Thursday, Feb. 26 from 7-9 p.m. there will be a reception for “The Beauty That Found Me There,” a 20-photograph series that reflects the journey across Israel made by Communications Editor Joshua Unikel ’07.
Last July, Unikel went on a Taglit Birthright Outdoor Adventure Sea Trip that allowed him and 40 other ethnic Jews to travel across Israel for two weeks. “Along the way, we visited some of Israel’s most historic and holy sites, including the Western Wall, Yad Vashem (the Israeli Holocaust memorial) and the Military Cemetery. Unlike most Taglit trips, we were also able to snorkel in the Red Sea, hike in the Red Canyon of Eilat and raft down the Jordan River.”
Though he’d seen these sites listed in his itinerary before heading across the Atlantic, Unikel didn’t expect his experience to be quite so photographic. “Before I left, an artist friend of mine told me to take a lot of photos but, to be honest, I didn’t like the idea,” he said. “I was looking forward to just experiencing Israel as a person and not necessarily as a photographer or writer.”
While touring, he was overwhelmed by the “uniquely different beauty” and returned home with 122 artistic photographs. Unikel shared his collection with Lorinda Weinstock, Hillel Program director, who helped him get a spot on the trip and she encouraged him to do an exhibition. Twenty of the photos make up the exhibition at Houghton House.
“We both thought that it would be a great way to integrate Jewish Life and the Arts at HWS and to get the word out to Jewish HWS students about the Birthright program,” he said.
To discuss his Israel Birthright experience and his exhibition, Unikel will give an artist talk on Monday, Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. in the Abbe Center for Jewish Life. The exhibition, which will be housed in the side gallery of Houghton House, will have a dual reception with Kevin Wixted’s “Seasons,” which will be on display in the main gallery.
As an artist, Unikel works in a variety of forms, including writing, music, graphic design, photography, mixed media and drawing. As a student at the Colleges, Unikel earned his B.A. in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. He received the Kathryn D. Cooke Scholarship, the Benjamin Atkinson Award in English and comparative literature, the Dean Benjamin P. Atkinson Prize and was the co-recipient of the Boswell Award for philosophic excellence. On campus, he was the editor and founder of Crux, literary arts magazine and co-founder of The Circle, the HWS philosophic organization. In addition to his current role in Communications, he is also the Seneca Review assistant editor, the HWS Press graphics editor and the graphics editor for the Ithaca-based Wolf at the Door Press.
The exhibition and artist talk are sponsored by Hillel, the Art Department and the Abbe Center for Jewish Life.
Photo above of two stray cats is one of the photographs that appear in the exhibition.