Israel’s Art at Dawn is a new foundation set up immediately after the October 7 attack by Hamas. Its main goal is to ensure the return, rehabilitation, and continuation of artistic activities in the area directly impacted by the war.
Fine Art Shippers spoke with one of its co-founders, art advisor Shlomit Oren, about the mission of the foundation and its first steps.
Israel’s Art at Dawn: Supporting Artists Affected by War
How did Israel’s Art at Dawn come about, and who initiated it?
Shlomit Oren: It all started with a Facebook post by Michal Geva, calling for an art charity for artists near the Gaza border affected by the war. The post quickly gained attention and support from many in the art community. Artists often find themselves at the lower end of the priority list in many societies, and Israel is no exception. Given the current situation and a multitude of pressing issues, culture and the arts are receiving even less support, which they desperately need.
We, a group of 18 art professionals—curators, art advisors, and entrepreneurs—came together in less than three weeks. Although some of us might be competitors in our regular professional lives, we all feel that in the face of war, there’s no rivalry; we have to unite and help those who need it most of all.
Our main goal is to aid artists from the area around the Gaza Strip. Many were physically hurt, had to flee their homes, and were left with practically nothing. An example is my friend who had entered the safety room at her home at 6 am wearing just her shirt and underwear and was rescued only twenty hours later still wearing the same clothes. Their homes and studios were destroyed, leaving them without materials, equipment, or resources to continue their work. They need their tools to be able to earn their living, as well as opportunities to create new artworks and projects, and this is where Israel’s Art at Dawn will be assisting them.
What was your personal motivation to join the initiative?
These days, Israelis, including myself, feel that we are constantly under attack. This reality affects every aspect of our lives. For example, my children cannot attend school regularly, and we remain ever-alert, ready to seek shelter at any moment. These are very difficult times. However, in such challenging moments, we have a choice: to surrender to the circumstances or to act proactively. For me, choosing to take action is essential for maintaining sanity, particularly amidst the constant stream of distressing news. Being able to help others has provided immense comfort and a sense of reward amidst this chaos and destruction.
What efforts have Israel’s Art at Dawn undertaken so far?
As the first step in our initiative, we organized a charity art sale, which I’m proud to say was a great success. We were happy to discover that many artists, primarily Israelis but also from around the world, including the U.S. and Europe, were eagerly willing to donate their artworks for this cause.
This art sale is just the beginning. We plan to continue our fundraising activities, focusing more on specific artistic projects. The support already shown by various Jewish communities worldwide, as well as different companies and NGOs, has been encouraging. We welcome donations, and soon everyone willing to help us can do so on our website, paying as much as they want.
Can you mention a few artists who donated their works for the art sale?
Among those who joined our initiative are internationally acclaimed artists, for example, Nir hod, Allison Zuckerman, Sigalit Landau, Gideon Rubin. Some are based in Israel and others work across Europe and the U.S. Overall, we had 400 artists and 700 works, 300 of which were sold.
Could you elaborate on how the foundation plans to work in the future?
We’re taking two main approaches in our work. First, we’re actively reaching out to the art community and collectors to raise funds publicly. Second, we’re trying to understand the specific needs of artists impacted by the crisis, a task that requires careful assessment and might take some time.
Soon, we’ll set up different subcommittees within our fund, each responsible for a specific mission. These groups will issue open calls for support, catering to individual artists, art venues, or special art projects. The challenging part comes when these subcommittees start reviewing the proposals. They would need to figure out which ones are most urgent. It’s tough, sometimes even disheartening, but given that our resources are finite, we must make these difficult decisions.
Lastly, the name of the foundation, Israel’s Art at Dawn, is poetic and evokes many associations. What does it mean and what message do you want to convey with it?
We wanted our message to be about hope, not despair. Our focus is on the beauty of what we’ve built and our determination to rebuild it. That’s why we chose the name Israel’s Art at Dawn. Dawn means a new beginning. In tough times like war, hope is really important. We want this feeling of hope to echo in everything we do, to encourage and inspire everyone, not just artists.
To support the foundation:
Interview by Inna Logunova
Photo courtesy of Israel’s Art at Dawn