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Abstract Art of Jewish Sabbath to Open at Duquesne University Gallery

The first in a series of religious art exhibits will open in Duquesne University's Les Idees Gallery, focusing on the Jewish Sabbath.

Ben Schachter, associate professor of fine art at St. Vincent College who has exhibited at Yale University and the Westmoreland County Museum of Art, brings together Jewish rule, community and art in his exhibit Jewish Geography. An artist's talk and reception will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 4, in the Union's Africa Room. The Africa Room is near Les Idees Gallery, also in the Duquesne Union.

The event, sponsored by the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts, is the inaugural exhibit in an annual series of religious-themed artwork that Dean James Swindal hopes to bring to the campus community.

"It's a way of giving our students and our departments-history, theology, sociology, philosophy-the benefit of the fine arts," Swindal said.

Schachter's artwork, abstractions of physical places, focuses on the idea of the "eruv," a symbolic enclosure that surrounds Jewish homes. He represents this idea through maps of Jewish eruvs from around the world.

In the Jewish tradition, practicing Orthodox Jews cannot carry anything outside the eruv of their community on the Sabbath. For instance, carrying food or pushing a stroller from one house to another is forbidden on the Sabbath. Yet, Schachter sees this process as building community space.

"Fostering community is important in both the Catholic and Jewish traditions," Schachter said. "And yet, there are some laws that limit communal activities. I see an eruv as a highly regulated line running through space. For Orthodox Jewish communities, it blends individual houses into one communal home. At the same time, it is a collaged line winding its way through the city. More importantly, this set of rules is followed all over the world and to apply them in different places requires creativity."

The exhibit, free and open to the public, runs through Monday, March 1.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.