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New Mural in Teen Center encourages connection through art

Posted by Admin on March 28, 2024

Art connects us to with one another and allows people of all ages to learn and grow.

That’s why when LA based artists Tara Dervin and Shlome J. Hayun offered to create a mural of a Hamsa symbol at the JCC of Greater Pittsburgh, our team knew that the Teen space was the perfect place for it.

Tara and Shlome spent a recent afternoon at The Second Floor Teen center carefully picking out shades of electric blue and working on the mural’s details.

Tara has roots in Pittsburgh; she grew up in Squirrel Hill and participated in a variety of JCC theater programs. She met Shlome when she moved to California for college, and since then they’ve collaborated on making murals and installations. Still connected to Pittsburgh’s Jewish community, she had hoped her visit to Pittsburgh would entail creating a Hamsa mural for the JCC.

The Hamsa is a symbol rich in history and cultural significance across a number of religions, particularly in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. Often depicted as an open palm with an eye embedded in its center, the Hamsa symbolizes protection, blessings, and the warding off of negative energies.

“To me it’s a little bit more than that,” Shlome reflected. “If you get rid of the evil eye, you’re getting rid of negative energy and if you get rid of negative energy all your left with is positive energy. It’s more than a positive or negative; it’s a unifier, because if you go across the world, you’ll find symbols like this that go back thousands of years so we all have that in common.”

“In a world where we feel so often that we have to choose a side, the Hamsa reminds us that it’s possible to be hand in hand and walk this walk together as a team. Even if we’re different there’s hidden beauty when we work together,” Dervin highlighted when asked about the Hamsa’s symbolic power.

The two hope that teens use their own imagination to reflect about the piece, affirming that that every person feels art differently and has different take-aways from it. The pair would like to encourage any community member who looks at their art to follow their dreams.

Shlome has created different Hamsa murals across the country and at different places in Israel. He has his own Judaica line accentuating colorful photos and art encompassing Jewish values and concepts.

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