July 15, 2024
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Elevated Space Art Camp—The Creative Way to Spend a Summer

Famed artist and Teaneck resident Natalia Kadish might just be running the coolest, most creative summer camp in town. Together with board-certified art therapist and Ben Porat Yosef teacher Yael Rotenberg, she has plans to teach kids real art skills and help them create pieces they wouldn’t necessarily be able to do in their own homes. Especially if they don’t have a dedicated ceramics studio like the one at Kadish’s Elevated Space, where she holds classes for adults and kids in the evenings and on Sundays.

Now, since this is not your average day camp, or even your average art camp, you can bet Kadish is not your average camp counselor/director/owner either.

An established book illustrator, she illustrated and co-authored two books with her husband besides the countless others she was hired to do for clients. The first book is called “Seeing is Believing,” which she describes as “a Torah book with deep mystical concepts.” In it, you’ll find brief explanations and inspirations for 20 of her Torah-themed paintings that she’s done throughout the years. She is currently working on a second volume.

Kadish’s second book, “Flower Power,” is for children and talks about fear and how to deal with it through the perspective of two flowers that have just bloomed. As she explained: “These two flowers who were just born start to open up their buds. At first they are excited but then they begin to feel weak and don’t know why.”

Starring a curious cat, a mama mouse and an old oak tree which bears a striking resemblance to Natalia’s father, the two flowers quickly learn that even though they have sun and good soil, something else is missing! (Could it be rain?) What they fear is not only the cure for what ails them but will also make them stronger and grow. The book, Kadish explained, was inspired by a midrash on Adam HaRishon about the fear he experienced when he began to notice how the days were getting shorter.

A graduate of the School of Visual Arts, Kadish hails from a long line of artists. Her father is a professional artist. In fact, he is also a renowned book illustrator. Even her grandparents were the well known artists Doris Hall and Kalman Kubinyi.

These days, besides book illustrating, running the most creative camp in town and creating art classes, Kadish is also the art teacher at Maayanot High School, which she calls “the light of my life”—a place she loves so much that even if she won the lottery, she would still stay and work there.

Oh, and when she’s not busy doing all those things, she also takes portrait commissions, painting families in surreal settings. For one client, she is painting him and his family crossing the Red Sea. She portrayed another family as traveling to the Beit Hamikdash.

“People design whatever they want to have on their walls that is deeply connected to them,” Kadish explained of the unusual portraits that people request. “That’s where I get the name Elevated Space—so they can elevate their space to a spiritual place.” Families are encouraged to come up with their own painting as opposed to just purchasing something that they find in a gallery. “I like making clients happy and thank God they are.”

But back to that Art Camp, Rotenberg (the art therapist working with Kadish) said that her ultimate goal is to introduce students to different art media and will guide them as they create projects that could take one to two hours, as well as projects that will span a two-week session. But arguably one of the most distinctive projects is one where all the campers together make a project that spans all ages and combines all developmental levels. Ultimately, she and Kadish want the kids to experience art with less limitation.

“There’s a whole process to creation of art, and sometimes it’s discouraging because it doesn’t look at first the way the artist intended.” Rotenberg went on to say that “when creating the foundation of the composition, it’s a step-by-step process. Like a sonogram, it doesn’t look like a baby.

“Growth takes time and effort and comes with mistakes. Artists sometimes say, ‘There are mistakes in art,’ but that should not be taken literally. It means that no art mistake is a waste of time, even if the end result is not what the artist anticipated. Mistakes are crucial aspects of learning because it builds mastery, learning and growth. We need to learn how to embrace the mistakes, transform them and cultivate them towards mastery. It’s not about the final product, it’s about the journey.”

But both Kadish and Rotenberg plan to give the kids basic skills that will allow them to build from the previous skills learned, giving them the ability to eventually create more substantial long-term projects.

With artistic activities that will run the gamut from pottery—real pottery, Kadish added with emphasis, glass fusion, kite making and even the occasional treasure hunt, Kadish and Rotenberg have planned an exciting summer for kids in grades 1 to 8, with a tented outdoor space and, of course, an indoor spaces for when it rains or it’s just too hot. But the underlying theme is for everyone “to personalize and really create their own art” while providing a joyful art experience.

“This is not a camp where we are going to be creating cookie-cutter art,” Rotenberg added. But, of course, there will also be crafts, because there are unique skills and lessons to learn in both art and crafts. But most importantly, “there is joy in both. There is joy in creating crafts and there is joy in creating art,” and that may be the most important skill to gain.

For Rotenberg, being the director of a camp like this is much more than an out-of-the-box way to spend a summer. She spent many years going to art camp, calling the experience the highlight of her year.

If you’re starting to get jealous and pining for an art camp experience like this, then you’re in luck. With a variety of evening classes offered at her Elevated Spaces studio, Kadish offers classes in all kinds of artistic techniques. Some come to learn how to paint in all kinds of media including pastels or charcoal. Others come to learn pottery and ceramics, how to work the wheel, hand-building and glazing. Budding artists can start taking classes as early as first grade, but Tuesday nights are strictly for teens. Thursday night is Family Night at Elevated Space.

To learn more about Elevated Space’s Art Camp or classes visit:

https://www.elevatedspaceartstudio.com

By Ronit Mershon

 

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