Thursday, June 13, 2024

Between the Cracks

“The wound is the place where the light enters you.” -Rumi

We all hurt from time to time. It is how we approach grief, illness, heartache that defines the shape of our lives. We may choose to look head on once our hearts no longer recoil violently from the pain. Uncomfortable feelings, while a terrible burden, can also be a gift in the most unexpected ways. It is through the holes in our hearts that we may see new vistas, understand the curve of the world in a way we never thought to look before.

Daniel Terna is based in Brooklyn, New York. There he runs an art gallery in addition to being a practicing artist. Recently his work has begun centering around Jewish identity. After someone recommended he investigate Asylum Arts Terna applied to a retreat and was accepted. Much of his work already dealt with the holocaust and his own father, a 94 year old holocaust survivor but he hadn’t delved much into explaining his Jewish identity through is work. Asylum Arts marked a turning point in that regard.

Terna recognizes that there is a common misunderstanding when people hear the term “Jewish Art” and think this refers to Judaica. Terna explains that in fact the term encompasses so much more. For many years Terna’s work has involved formal portraits of his father, but more recently the work has become a bit stranger and less straightforward than that.

For Terna, audience is a key word. He feels tying artwork to religion can be very taboo much in the way that political art long has been. The audience for his own work has long been an older generation who are less involved in the art world itself and more an audience interested in his father as a holocaust survivor. Terna is now beginning to investigate how to reorient his work to embrace the religious aspects and apply it to the art world.

Recently he has encountered other artists who are wrestling with family trauma much in the same way Terna himself does. Through the retreat, he hopes to continue forging these sort of relationships and form a strategy to present his work to wider audiences.

Terna founded and is director of 321 Gallery in Brooklyn. The concept was established in 2012 alongside a friend of his when the two hosted an apartment art show at Terna’s family home. In 2013 he repeated the exercise with the work of another artist who brought in sculptor Tom Forkin who became Terna’s business partner in Gallery 321. The two are self-taught and have enjoyed watching other young artists run startup galleries like theirs in other cities. In September the gallery will host a solo show with artist Laura Hunt.

To hear more about Daniel Terna’s work and the story of his father’s life, listen to the complete and powerful interview.

Jerry Kearns is finishing a series of eight, seven foot square paintings inspired by his wife Nora, a singer and bandleader’s cancer diagnosis three years ago. Kearns says he has been painting his way back from the reality of his wife’s diagnosis and subsequent death.

Facing the disease was a shared experience for Kearns and his wife. They both find healing through art. The husband and wife decided to collaborate in 2015 with a painting installation and a concert. This allowed them to fall back on art in order to maintain sanity in the face of this difficult diagnosis.

The imagery in the collaborative show was made up of wall murals involving a narrative of sorts using text boxes to lead viewers through a story. Nora had been heavily involved in the Puccini opera Tosca and it was from this story that Kearns drew some of his inspiration. In some cases the text was direct quotes from the opera itself. The couple knew they were involved in a personal tragedy and so creating art inspired by the operatic tragedy was one way in which they guided themselves to wake up in the reality the faced.

Much of Kearns’ work deals with personal narrative within the context of the larger social and political framework. He points to the current environment in which images and concepts are twisted to suit a particular agenda. His paintings of his late wife are still very much influenced by their relationship but with an archetypal shape.

To hear more about Jerry Kearns’ work, his healing through art, and his collaborative work with his wife Nora, listen to the complete interview.

A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:

Give your heart time to heal and then be brave. Embrace the reality beyond the realm of ache to see what gifts it may bear.

Interviews are available on iTunes as podcasts, and for Android please click here. All weekly essay pieces in a shareable format are here. The full archive of interviews here.

Books to Read

What are you reading? Add your titles to our reading list here. Daniel Terna is reading Indignation by Philip Roth. Jerry Kearns is listening to books these days and has recently listed to Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari.


Vermont Studio Center offers a Displaced Artists Program for those artists who are forced to move due to natural disaster, climate change, or political turmoil or threat. VSC offers artists a safe place to continue working when they are forced to abandon their usual space. There are separate channels depending on the nature of artist displacement so artists interested in this assistance should carefully read through all of the information on the VSC website before applying. There is no deadline for this opportunity, it is given on an as need basis.


Weekly Edited Grant and Residency Deadlines – review the list here.

Sponsor: Whitney Museum of American Art – David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night. Jul 13–Sep 30, 2018. Beginning in the late 1970s, David Wojnarowicz (1954–1992) created a body of work that spanned photography, painting, music, film, sculpture, writing, and activism.



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