About Jeffrey Schrier

 

Jeffrey Schrier (born December 7, 1943), Cleveland, Ohio, is an American artist, producing painting, sculpture, mixed media, and assemblage installations, some involving community participation. His chosen themes are frequently enlivened through his use of unconventional materials. A body of Schrierís work plays with the enchantment of religious story and dogma, contrasted with history, science or pop-culture. Holocaust and WWII references in his work are rooted in family history and the fact that he was born on Pearl Harbor Day. Schrier states that his interest in visually transforming events associated with doom into hope, arises out of his struggle with crippling scoliosis and restorative spine surgery during his teen years.

Wings of Witness Begun in 1997, Schrierís on-going WINGS of WITNESS assemblage, has been constructed with the assistance of over fifty thousand participants through artist residencies that Schrier conducts internationally at museums and educational institutions.  More then eleven million soda can tabs, weighing over six tons, are the primary source material of the work.  The tabs, collected from every US State and eight countries, are intended to recognize the enormity of the loss of human life resulting from the Nazi Holocaust. Working under Schrier's direction, volunteers help fabricate "feathers" from the tabs, which are then laid out in a massive butterfly shape, a reference to a poem written by the young Czechoslovak poet Pavel Friedman, who perished at Auschwitz. WINGS of WITNESS has been assembled as a work-in-progress at eight sites across the USA: Yeshiva University Museum, New York, 1997; The Bremen Museum, Atlanta, GA, 1998; The Brandeis Bardin Institute, Simi Valley, CA, 1999; the Holocaust Museum Houston, TX, 2000; Ida Lee Park, Leesburg VA, 2001; Holocaust Memorial and Education Center of Nassau County, Glen Cove, NY, 2003; and the Katonah Museum of Art, 2005;  as well as the Mahomet Seymour Junior High, Mahomet Illinois, 1997, where the tab collection originated.  

Education and Career

Schrier was educated at the Cleveland Institute of Art, and California Institute of the Arts (LA).  At CALARTS he developed as a painter under Emerson Woelffer, who challenged Schrier to create a year long series based on a double-two domino, resulting in Schrierís continuing fascination for working with mundane objects in his art. After Schrier set up his first Manhattan studio, he also occupied a tenth century former Roman monastery on the island of Majorca, Spain, as a summer studio. Nearby, he assisted archeologist /artist William Waldren, at his Earthwatch supported bronze age dig, an experience that cemented Schrierís interest in ancient culture. In his late twenties, during a period he was recording hundreds of his dreams, Schrier discovered, in LA street trash, a Yiddish play dated 1879.  Based on Mikketz, the biblical story of Joseph (dreamer and facilitator in the interpretation of the Pharaohís dreams), it is the same story that, at age thirteen, Schrier read from the Torah to become a Bar Mitzvah. This synchronistic mystery subsequently propelled Schrier to utilize his art for the investigation of his Jewish heritage. Winged imagery is prevalent in Schrierís current treatment of biblical dreams, as well as in earlier works. Presently, Schrierís NY studio is a WPA Lodge overlooking the Hudson River, where his thematic work is strongly influenced by the cycle of tides and seasonal changes.

Beginning in Los Angeles and continuing in New York, Schrier was an early experimenter with copier and laser printing in his work. Many of these works were exhibited in his first NY solo, Xerotica, at the Master Eagle Gallery, the vanguard gallery of Manhattanís Chelsea district, and in survey exhibitions at the International Museum of Photography, Rochester, NY; The Canadian Center of Photography and Film, Toronto; New York State Museum, Albany; The Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum of the Smithsonian Institute, New York; Museo Electrographia, Cuenca, Spain; Bienale Electrographia, Madrid and Barcelona. During this period Schrier constructed The Dreaming Self, by fusing heat transfers made from scans of himself, onto the bed sheets he had slept on during his most active period of dream inquiry. It was first published by Science Digest for their focus on Sleep and Dreams, then again, for Pratt Graphics Print Review 20, accompanying Copy Art, the Precedents, by William Larson.   Schrier, whose Hebrew name is Yaacov, subsequently covered the sheets imprinted with the thrashing figure of himself, with images of Jacobís tunic that he appropriated from a fresco of the Dura Euuropos Synagogue, 3rd century, Syria. It was installed it for his first solo at the Yeshiva University Museum, Manhattan.

Schrierís commissions as an illustrator include works for the music of Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Elvis Costello, Paul Winter, Les Paul, for classical and jazz composers, as well in The Atlantic, Psychology Today, Quest, the Communications Satellite, etc. His illustrative works were included in notable survey exhibitions and associated publications: Printmaking in Modern American Illustration at the Pratt Manhattan Center Gallery; 200 Years of American Illustration at the New York Historical Society museum, and will be in the September 2011 exhibition at the museum of the Society of Illustrators, NYC, of outstanding works commissioned by Rolling Stone from the 1970ís to present.

Schrierís other work of public note includes (beginning with most recent):

    WrecKtify, solo exhibition at H-Art, Peekskill, NY, (November 2010-March, 2011). Mixed media paintings, 2006-2011, with references to Creation stories across a cultural spectrum. At odds with fundamentalist assertions that natural disasters are divine retaliation, Schrier worked outdoors on seven-foot expanses of ruined, flood stained scrolls primed with mud and river clay, with storms directly impacting his imagery.  

    Serif Seriphim, solo exhibition, Yeshiva University Museum, Center for Jewish History, NY, (2005). Cut and polychrome sheet steel in which the primary calligraphic imagery is transmitted through the cut empty spaces, or shadows, rather than the steel panels themselves. Influenced by the figurative stacking of Hebrew letters in Kabbalah, the Sifirot and micrography.  

   Passage to Freedom, UJA Gallery, NY (2003). Solo of twenty-four mixed media works commissioned by the Reconstructionist Press, for A Night of Questions, (a Passover Haggadah, hardcover edition 2010).  

   On the Wings of Eagles (1998). The story of the rescue of the Ethiopian Jews, illustrated and penned by Schrier, recipient of Sydney Taylor Award, hardcover, Millbrook Press.  

   Until the Time, Memorial to Raoul Wallenberg (1997). Commissioned by the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance, LA.  Heat fusion montage incorporating historical WWll photos into a ten-foot high interpretation of a Shutz-Pass (passport Wallenberg issued to save lives).  

   Golden Lamp, Golden Land. Installation at Ellis Island Museum, NY (1993), and Grand Central Terminal, NY (1991). Construction of painted monoprints, montage and assemblage inspired by a Yiddish book dated 1879, that Schrier found in an LA trash heap.  

   Ancient Walls in the Century of Electronic Light, Yeshiva University Museum, NY, (1993). Solo exhibition of montage and assemblage in which images of synagogue structures from antiquity were re-envisioned through laser output and construction.   

   Scroll, commissioned by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, NY, 1985. Permanent installation; heat fusion montage and assemblage inspired by important manuscripts from the Seminary Library Rare Book Room, including manuscript fragments from the Cairo Genizeh dating from the 10th century.  

   Forty Hamsa Forty Years, solo exhibition, Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion Museum, New York, 1985. Mixed media works fusing dream images with generations of family photos and transfer prints of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

A faculty member at Parsons School of Design from 1981-91, Schrier has lectured and been artist in residence at Syracuse University and the State University of New York at Buffalo, and involved more than sixty thousand participants in stages of his work through workshops presented at hundreds of other educational institutions including Northwestern University, Quinnipiac University, University of South Florida-Gainsville, Loyola Marymount University, Hunter College, Lycee Fraqncais de NY.

Recognition and Awards

Grants and foundation funding for Schrier's works that involve community participation and address social and environmental issues:

2012: US Department of Defense Mediterranean District and the Vicenza Community Club, Vicenza, Italy

2011, 2008, 2006, 2003: New York State Council on the Arts

2011, 2009,  2008, 2006: Arts Westchester

2009: Federal grant: Innovative Alternative Strategies For Educators of Visual Arts

2008: Hudson River Healthcare

2005: George Blumenthal, LLC 

2002, 2001: Steven Spielbergís Righteous Persons Foundation

2002, 2001:  Foundation for Jewish Culture

2001: The Irwin Uran Gift Fund of Loudoun County, Virginia

2000: Brandeis-Bardin Institute

1999: Fulton County Arts Council, Atlanta, Georgia

1998: Anti-Defamation League, LA

1998: Coca Cola