Chaya Ben Baruch
|חיה בן ברוך|
|A glass vitrage artist that lives in Safed.|
Chaya Ben Baruch is a safed based artist that creates fused and stained glasswork based on themes connected to the Land of Israel and Judaism.
Chaya Ben Baruch was born in New York but moved to Fairbanks, Alaska, as a young woman. It was there that her children were born, the youngest a child with Downs Syndrome. Chaya and her husband, Yisrael, decided that they wanted their son to grow up with a companion who had a similar life experience so they adopted a little girl who also experiences Downs Syndrome.
The family made aliyah in 1995 and in the intervening years their family expanded twice more to include two more Downs Syndrome children. A third Downs Syndrome baby that they were fostering passed away from an unrelated problem.
In 2012 the Ben Baruch's two oldest Downs Syndrome children -- their biological son and their first adopted daughter -- got married in a lavish wedding ceremony at which Safed's Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, officiated.
Chaya studied for a degree in Chinese Medicine and then, to relieve some of the stress that comes from living in a family with four special needs children, began to experiment in glasswork.
Chaya credits her unique family life with her artistic explorations. She explains that seeing the unique abilities and characteristics of each child helped her to begin to look at nature in a different way -- "every leaf amazed me, the light caught my eye." Her work involves experimenting with design, color and other possibilities as she creates pieces of stained and fused glass. She sees her work as a way to express herself.
Chaya Ben Baruch's work is based on Judaic and nature themes. She especially likes to work on the Seven Species of the Land of Israel, in particular, pomegranates and wheat. She also creates pieces that feature fish, birds, Biblical scenes and scenes that depict Jewish life and life-cycle events.
Chaya works in stained and fused glass techniques. Fused glass is cut glass which is fired in a kiln. She likes the fact that she never knows what will come out of the kiln because different temperatures and baking times act on each piece in different ways.
Chaya's background in paper cutting trained her to envision shapes first. Once she has a shape in mind she concentrates on the light and how it filters through a piece of glass. She notes that glass is actually fluid and can pick up vibration. Chaya Ben Baruch has to fully focus on the glass for it to cut in the way that she wants it to emerge. "I put myself into a piece and love what I do."
Chaya teaches the craft of creating glass vitrages to individual students but as soon as they learn the technique, she encourages them to move on begin their own creative adventures in glass.
Chaya exhibits at the Miriam's Well Women's Collective Gallery on Bar Yochai Street in Tzfat.