Inspired Garden Party + Open Studios

Charleston, SC | Spring 2024

FSA’s Inspired Garden Party + Open Studios honored Spring 2024 artists-in-residence, Yifat Bezalel and Nezaket Ekici. Despite the afternoon deluge, the rain provided an ethereal setting for the premiere of Nezaket Ekici’s performance “Piece | Peace of Heaven,” intensifying the presence of water symbolized in her performance. Both artists unveiled new work made during their residencies in Charleston in their open studios.

Yifat Bezalel Open Studio 

Yifat Bezalel’s spring open studio seamlessly merges Renaissance and Baroque-inspired figurative drawing with Hebraic and Kabbalistic references, blending mysticism with art history and feminism with faith. In her studio, she featured two works that she was inspired to juxtapose in conversation with one another, which were informed by reflections during her Charleston residency, alongside new drawings and found objects. Bezalel’s film “Tehilla” is based on a story by S.Y. Agnon, referencing the poetic prayers and songs of King David from the Hebrew and Christian Bibles. Bezalel’s heroine, Tehilla, an ageless and devout woman wandering Jerusalem, has dwelled in the world since the destruction of the Second Temple and is tasked with transforming the pain and sorrow of loss. She performs rituals invoking the Shekhinah (the divine presence) to address cosmic spiritual struggles, harmonizing what is negative, dark, and dense into light, order, and well-being.

Opposite this work is a projected image of Bezalel’s “Duty of the Hearts,” a drawing based on Michelangelo’s “Pietà,” created during a New York City-based residency last summer. In this image, the Mother of Mothers mourns her son, holding him like a baby. Both works depict women in sacred spaces: one in a black abyss activating salvation, the other in a deserted Jerusalem seeking redemption. These heroines symbolize “the unfathomed part of nature” and the essence of the Shekhinah or the divine feminine across all religions and spiritual traditions, embodying delicacy and strength simultaneously. Through silence, compassion, and humility, they activate a constant state of restoration, preservation, and expansion for humanity.


Nezaket Ekici Open Studio 

Nezaket Ekici Open Studio 

In Nezaket Ekici’s Open Studio, she featured two mid-process performance works from her Charleston residency. “Feeling Stained Glass,” draws inspiration from Grace Church Cathedral’s spiritual ambiance and architectural heritage, especially its stained-glass windows and intricate needlepoint kneelers. Ekici created tape “windows” on the studio walls and reimagined the stained glass as a two-dimensional floor graphic with photographs and real objects. Her live performance at Grace Church Cathedral on May 5th, 2024, was a meditative site-specific piece with opera singer Hälis Rünk, merging visual art and music to celebrate interfaith aesthetic traditions from Christian, Islamic, and Jewish mysticism, as well as Zen Buddhism. The studio also featured her self-made costumes and performance documentation projected on the same textile in the studio closet, emulating a confessional booth.


“Piece | Peace of Heaven” Open Studio Performance 

Premiering at FSA’s Inspired Garden Party, FSA Spring 2024 Artist-in-Residence Nezaket Ekici’s live performance “Piece | Peace of Heaven” reflects on Charleston’s sacred exteriors and the relationship between religious architecture and the heavens. Inspired by the spiritual landscape of the Holy City, which includes churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques, Ekici meditates on the faith practices of various religions under a shared sky – a common heaven. She inscribes religious texts on canvas in haint blue, a color with particular regional significance. Ekici incorporates the element of water to symbolize ablution—water purification and cleansing rites across spiritual traditions such as Baptism, Mikvah, and Wudu. “Piece | Peace of Heaven” imagines heaven’s proximity to earth and explores what it might mean to commune with and become one with heaven.

Photography by Paul Cheney


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