Hillel Smith: Pushing Boundaries | Osher Marin Jewish Community Center

Hillel Smith: Pushing Boundaries

May 30 - 31, 2017

A street art exhibit that reimagines Jewish art & traditions for today’s world.

Hillel SmithThe Friendship Mural,
Camp Ramah, CA (2013)

Hillel SmithHillel Smith

Hillel Smith

Hillel Smith



Hillel Smith: Pushing Boundaries 

Exhibit Dates:
March 28-May 31, 2017

The Osher Marin JCC is excited to announce Pushing Boundaries, a new exhibition that delves into the inventive visual world of Los Angeles-based artists, Hillel Smith. Smith is an artist and graphic designer focused on engaging communities with their heritage in innovative ways. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Visual Studies. He teaches spray stencil workshops for kids and adults at a growing number of schools, camps, and other organizations, including Silverlake Independent JCC, Beth Am Religious School, Camp Ramah, CA, NCSY, Miller Intro to Judaism at American Jewish University, and Limmud LA.

Together with Tel Aviv artist Itamar Paloge, Smith created Illuminated Streets, an initiative whose stated mission is “to advance the Jewish contribution to the LA street art scene, increase ties between LA and Israel, and explore expressing Jewish identity through unlikely media,” has resulted in the creation of numerous public artworks that have transformed the landscapes of both cities. In 2013, Smith also created The Friendship Mural at Camp Ramah, with the goal of creating a design compelling to those fluent in Hebrew and those who cannot read the words. The Hebrew text reads: U-k’ne lecha haver (Acquire for yourself a friend), from Pirkei Avot.

Smith revitalizes ancient rituals with online projects like his GIF Omer Counter and Parsha Poster series, encouraging creative reconsideration of religious practice. He leads workshops on Jewish art, including Jewish street art, at a growing number of institutions, centering on artistic empowerment, continuity, and manifesting identity through the arts. Seeing Hebrew as the visual glue binding Jews together across time and space, he also teaches Jewish typographic history, using print as a lens for Jewish life and culture. 

See more at hillelsmith.info.


Mark your calendar Sunday, April 30, for an unforgettable opportunity: in lieu of a traditional opening reception, Hillel Smith will instead present his unique approach to art as a way of expressing personal and communal identity, and lead two special stencil-arts workshops, one geared towards families and the other for older kids and adults. Age appropriate thematic elements and art materials will be presented accordingly. Workshop prices and schedules will be announced shortly.


I revel in taking the familiar and bringing to it the unexpected. Surprise, whimsy, and humor make art enjoyable to me, but with a focus on craft and technique. Trained in drawing and painting, and now a graphic design professional, I create figurative works and typographic pieces with an ever-present twist. I combine disparate elements, sneak in hidden messages, and create otherwise ordinary objects out of unconventional materials. I'm fascinated by the interplay between old and new, boldness and subtlety, order and chaos.

After experimenting with silkscreen, I began creating work with spray paint and stencils. Stenciling allows me to indulge my precise designer habits, while spray paint requires me to let go and accept the uncontrollable. Like silkscreen, spray paint stencils engender flat colors, clean lines, and an emphasis on form and construction. Working digitally further allows me to embrace my affinities for geometry and optical effects.

Growing up, I believed all Jewish art was ugly and stale. Discovering luminaries of generations past who infused their Judaism with the zeitgeist, I was encouraged to meld my interests in typography and contemporary trends in digital design and street art with my background in Jewish text and tradition. I aim to make Jewish work that is current, challenging, beautiful, and compelling, indeed Judaica for the modern age.

Location: Kurland, Stairwell, Gallery

Osher Marin JCC
200 N. San Pedro Road
San Rafael, CA 94903