Shmitaware: Flatware for the Shmita Year and Beyond

Shoshana Gugenheim Kedem Gugenhiem Kedem

About Shoshana Gugenheim Kedem Gugenhiem Kedem

Shoshana Gugenheim Kedem is an interdisciplinary artist, Torah scribe, curator and chutzpanit. Shoshana’s work dismantles patriarchy in Jewish and other spaces, redistributes agency to the public domain and centers the female voice through the sacred and the mundane. Institutional critique and publicly generated solutions provide an avenue for the new imaginary in her socially engaged works. Shoshana was one of the first women in modern times to train and practice as a Torah scribe. Her scribal work inspired her international collaboration, Women of the Book, launched with the Jerusalem Biennale 2015 and acquired by the Yale University Arts Library Collection. Today her work as a scribe manifests through her ongoing project, Or Hadash | עור חדש, an art intervention into the parchment making industry that redirects the production of parchment away from industrial agriculture and back to the sacred land, animals and humans to whom it belongs. Shoshana is the founding Artist and Co-Director of the Greensboro Contemporary Jewish Museum in Greensboro, NC and of The Gugenheim Portland situated in her family residence in their NE Portland, OR neighborhood. She dwells in this contemporary art museum with her spouse, two children and their three chickens, two rabbits and family dog.

About Shmitaware: Flatware for the Shmita Year and Beyond

Shmitaware is an interactive and utilitarian ritual artwork that centers food, farming and nourishment in a Jewish context, and more specifically, in the context of the shmita year. Shmitaware as a name and object reflects the values and lessons embedded within the Jewish teachings and practices in a shmita year. Shmitaware offers a starting point for conversations about food justice, food sourcing, rest, nourishment, the joy of gathering to share food and more. The hand stamped flatware, playfully named, “Shmitaware,” elevates the ritual of a daily, Shabbat or holiday meal to one of active dialogue and contemplation. Shmitaware is as much a prompt to conversation about the joys and complexities of sharing food in our contemporary food systems as it is hiddur mitzvah, an aesthetic elevation of the commandment to sanctify our meals. One way or the other, Shmitaware, is an opportunity to enrich the experience of gathering for a meal at home or with community. The images you see here are from a set of flatware made for a summer camp in 2018. Sayings and prompts for Shmitaware are adjusted to address the teachings and ideas of shmita. Shmitaware comes wrapped in a hand-sewn flatware roll and is accompanied by an artistic insert that guides the user to further prompts for conversation around a table.