I first saw Noah Lubin‘s work at the Allston Artists’ Studio a few weeks ago; my husband saw Hebrew characters in one of his paintings and suggested I talk to him about being in the column. I’m glad he did, because Noah’s art combines Jewish themes with a modernist sensibility. I asked Noah about his influences — Jewish and otherwise — and how he came to painting as his full-time career.
I see so many different artists in your work, including Basquiat and Picasso. Who inspires you?
The truth is I love all of art history and try to learn from many painters. That being said, I feel particularly drawn to more free, intuitive art like Basquiat, late Picasso, Jean Debuffet, Karel Appel, and de Kooning. I believe that personality precedes philosophy and that the philosophies we choose are often self-serving in a large respect, at least with art, though I think this is true for much of life as well. I am someone who strives for freedom and emotional expression in all of life; I am terrible at faking or lying. The art of those mentioned is raw, intuitive, free association-based, child-like, and very individualistic. Their imaginations are larger than the eye can see. I consider them all masters in this realm. Though I have a ways to go, I feel that we are torn from the same cloth.
How does your religion manifest itself in your work?
At this point in my life, I cannot separate Torah and ritualistic life from my perception and interpretation of the world around me. At the same time, I cannot ignore that I grew up secular or went to college or read history and philosophy. And so I try to integrate the entirety of my life into an honest whole. This is a magical balancing act that we all must do quite often if we are reflective and honest.
Art for me is a mirror of life; if it sits on the side and comments, it is a failure. It must be face to face with us. And so I am continually attempting to capture, in painting, my interpretive imagination and how it filters experience for me. I am continually trying to develop the skills to do this most effectively. I wish to show what I call an urban, contemporary Judaica, which is radical in some ways within traditional Jewish art and most true to who I am. I am not interested in folklore and dancing Chassidim with violins. In fact, I’ve never seen one. My art would be untrue.
You were a school teacher before this? How did you come into this line of work?
I am still a school teacher. I will always be one, even if I’m not teaching. I am someone interested in the classroom environment as a primary or essential space for discourse and exchange. As a reflective person, this is of the highest value to me.
My mother was a school teacher. Though she thought I would be well-loved by students and would make an important educator if I found the right space, she was worried that I was too free and wouldn’t fit the bill, so to say. She felt that I would be misunderstood and that schools didn’t really want creative types like me. In their minds, they did, but they would be uncomfortable with aspects of my personality that I cannot hide. She wanted me to be an artist. Let’s just say she was right. She was an artist as well.
What’s your favorite color?
Like a parent, I love all my children. It brings me nachas to see them get along.
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Four Questions is a weekly interview column featuring interesting people connected with the Greater Boston Jewish community. Find past columns here. Have an idea of someone we should interview? Email Molly!
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