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Grants in North America

Tree of Life Foundry

Tree of Life Foundry

The creators of Tree of Life Foundry, Alina and Jeff Bliumis are New York-based artists who use their artistic initiatives to start public dialogues about the politics of community, cultural displacement, migration and identity.

Their works are in various private and public collections, including the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (Russia), Bat-Yam Museum (Israel), the Saatchi Collection (UK), the Harvard Business School (USA), the Museum of Immigration History, Paris (France) and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (UK).

In 2013, with support from Genesis Philanthropy Group, Tree of Life developed Casual Conversations, the Bliumis’ first project focusing specifically on the Jewish community. It began as an anthropological inquiry into Brooklyn's immigrant communities, based on interactions initiated through artist interventions and public discussions held around the Brighton Beach area. Participants were provoked to react and reflect on personal and group identities in the form of a performance installation and then a photographic series.

To date the photography series was exhibited at the Philadelphia's National Museum of Jewish History, in 2012; The Laurie M. Tisch Gallery, JCC of Manhattan, NY 2013-2014; Limmud NY, 2014; Jewish Funders Network Conference, 2014; Limmud Bay Area, 2014; and the JCC of St. Paul, MN, 2014. Each exhibit included an interactive station allowing visitors to take part in the dialogue by commenting on their own identities through self-portraits. More than 2,200 photos of 1,860 people have been gathered throughout the run of the project.

Additionally, in 2015, Genesis Philanthropy Group supported publication of “From Selfie to Groupie”, a book with select photos, essays about identity from published authors and academia, as well as an evaluation of the demographic data gathered during the interactive part of the exhibition. The book is available for purchase at www.selfietogroupie.com.

Goals and Objectives

  • Hundreds of Russian-speaking Jews will have the opportunity to convey their diverse identities to a wider Jewish community throughout North America
  • Non-Russian speaking Jews will learn about and engage with the unique voices of the Russian speaking Jewish community
  • Value will be given to the voices of artists as key drivers of the conversation about Jewish identity in America, creating accessible avenues for Jewish connection. This will continue to encourage Russian speaking Jewish artists to create work that explores their personal experiences as well as those of this particular community.

Current Grants

Past Grants