‘Color Me Blue’: Celebrating Diversity with Arts in Fairfax

“Color Me Blue,” live performance combining music, dance and art of Siona Benjamin at the JCCNV, 8900 Little River Turnpike, Fairfax.

Performance on Saturday, Nov. 7, at 8 p.m.

Tickets: $20 adults, $16 J members or seniors (65+) and $12 under 30.

Call 703-537-3000 or visit: www.jccnv.org.

With the increasing demographic diversity of Northern Virginia, the Arts Council of Fairfax County has funded a “Global Arts Initiative.” The Initiative has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

“The ‘Global Arts Initiative’ cultivates artistic collaboration, enables multi-disciplinary presentations, and provides new opportunities for artists, arts organizations and their audiences,” said Linda S. Sullivan, president & CEO of the Arts Council of Fairfax County.

An upcoming example of the success of “Global Arts Initiative” is an intersection of Indian and Jewish cultures in a multi-disciplinary event exploring the Jews of India called “Blue Like Me.” It features Indian-Jewish artist Siona Benjamin. It is at the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia (JCCNV).

Benjamin’s work has been regularly featured in the United States and India.

“The JCCNV’s ‘Blue Like Me’ program offers a powerful visitor experience combining a visual art exhibition, dance, lecture and documentary film,” noted Sullivan. There is currently an on-going exhibition of Benjamin’s artwork showing her multicultural heritage. On Saturday evening, Nov. 7 there will be an Indian dance performance called “Rang de Nila” (Color Me Blue) inspired by guest artist Benjamin’s paintings.

“Rang de Nila” will be a show that “through movements infused with elements of traditional Indian dance, modern dance and jazz, the dancers explore themes of identity,” said Dan Kirsch, JCCNV’s cultural arts director.

Siona Benjamin described the influences that impacted her this way: “I am an artist originally from Bombay, India, of Bene Israel Jewish descent. My work reflects my background and the transition between my old and new worlds. Having grown up in a predominantly Hindu and Muslim society, having been educated in Catholic and Zoroastrian schools, having been raised Jewish and now living in America, I have always had to reflect upon the cultural boundary zones in which I have lived.”

For Benjamin, there is a strong desire “to make art that will speak to my audience of our similarities, not our differences as I feel I can contribute to a much-needed ‘repair’ (Tikkun) through my art.” She wants an audience “to re-evaluate their notions and concepts about identity and race, thus understanding that such misconceptions could lead to racism, hate, and war.”

As for the title “Blue Like Me,” blue color has great symbolism in the culture of India. Blue can represent not only sky and oceans, but the infiniteness of nature and the Divine.

By: David Siegel