Israeli artist-in-residence turns trash into treasure

Israeli artist-in-residence turns trash into treasure

A piece Telma Schultz made from disposed materials

Photos courtesy of Telma Schultz
A piece Telma Schultz made from disposed materials Photos courtesy of Telma Schultz

A tenuous line between trash and treasure holds necklaces together. As demonstrated by Telma Schultz — an Israeli artist known for making jewels from junk — glue, paper and piles of disposables are all that is needed for turning knickknacks into novelties.

Schultz’s presentation on Wednesday, Nov. 30 at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh’s MAKESHOP, was an opportunity to introduce local philanthropists to the Israeli artist currently serving as the F.I.N.E. artist in-residence at the museum.

That position, which Schultz will hold until Dec. 16, was achieved through the cooperation of Classrooms Without Borders (CWB), the Children’s Museum and the Fine Foundation.

Since 2009, the latter, which supports the F.I.N.E. Artist Residency, has enabled nearly 40 visual artists to exhibit their work and lead programs for visitors, staff and educators at the museum.

Schultz is the first Israeli artist to participate in the residency.

“We are extremely proud and excited to support two extraordinary organizations in a collaborative effort that supports children, families and teachers and introduces a gifted Israeli artist to the Pittsburgh community,” said Susan Brownlee, executive director of the Fine Foundation.

Along with Brownlee, Zipora Gur, executive director of CWB, welcomed Schultz, a graduate of the Israel-based Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design and associate curator of the Feinstein Recycling Room at the Israel Museum, to Pittsburgh and commended those who aided the endeavor.

Without the efforts of the Fine Foundation and the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, CWB would not have been able to bring “a very famous Israeli artist from the Israel Museum” here, Gur explained.

As reception-goers sipped soup from small cups, the artist sat before a projector in the museum’s MAKESHOP. That space, which invites children, families and educators to utilize a seemingly endless supply of whatchamacallits to create thingamajigs, served as the perfect venue for Schultz’s presentation. Surrounded by cardboard scraps, snippets of old clothes and other soon-to-be repurposed items, Schultz explained that her creations, which are seamlessly melded materials devoid of manipulation from their original form, reflect her overseas upbringing.

“Prior to living in Jerusalem, I was born in Brazil and then moved with my family to a kibbutz. My artwork is affected by those experiences,” she said.

Slides she shared, as well as the jewelry she wore, proved her point. Through bright colors paying homage to her birthplace and soldiers and biblical characters giving a nod to her homeland, Schultz’s creations depicted not only past experiences, but also  a present life committed to salvaging, reprocessing and making anew.

And as testament to her trade, adorning the artist were decorative discards. Resting on her finger was a remnant of a scrapped keyboard. The ring’s construction occurred after Schultz discovered an old plastic pad, separated a single key and mounted the square-shaped jewel to a finger-sized band. Her necklace, which comprised former foosball players, held similar origins. After unearthing the little abandoned plastic men, Schultz painted them and strung them together.

“What Telma does is really allow people to literally see her process,” explained Chip Lindsey, education director at the Children’s Museum.

Before venturing back home, Schultz will hold several demonstrations. A schedule of upcoming events is available at the Children’s Museum’s website,

People throughout the city could learn much from the talented artist, noted Gur.

“There is a potential in every material and found object,” added Schultz. “All we need is to be able to see.”

Adam Reinherz can be reached at

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