Mechitzah (Room Divider) Project, 2011

In 2010-2011, Ilanit Shalev completed her first public installation. The project took place at Chabad Hebrew Academy school, San Diego, CA and involved children’s art.
Ilanit started the project with 10 students 6th through 8th grade, who took elective fused glass class. She had two goals in mind: give the students a deep and fulfilling learning experience while designing glass tiles for the Mechitzah project.
Since it’s a Jewish school the element of the Mechitzah has Jewish symbols. Each student sketched their own pictures from his/her own perspective. They created more then 30 sketches and then voted for the ones which they felt should be part of the design.
The next step was converting all the beautiful sketches to glass tiles using glass line paint and powders. Some of the designs and installation challenges were that the whole divider needed to be portable (on wheels) and needed to be equally attractive from both sides. It wasn’t clear from the start how this was going to be achieved, but gradually the vision became clear. The fused glass tiles would float in ½” thick glass sheets.
Glass is the artist’s medium and she wanted to push its boundaries. Lots of research was done to find references, but nothing like this had ever been attempted before.
The project was successfully completed and changed the whole look of the hall/synagogue.