Steffi Beigh, 31, and Tamar Levy, 25, don’t know each other, but both native Atlantan artists are youthful spirits who bring new dimensions of Jewish representation to their visual art practices. Levy, who identifies as non-binary, is a print maker, painter and sketcher inspired by Jewish folk art. Beigh said, “Through art, I release the Divine Feminine from exile by channeling Her energy, using uplifting colors and loving affirmations.” Levy, who tends toward florals and natural themes such as snakes and pomegranates, mused, “My end goal is to transform Jewish themes into tattoo art.” Take a look at the latest in hip, Jewish art.
Jaffe: How did your art passion begin?
Levy: I grew up in Sandy Springs, completed Epstein and Riverwood. Throughout school, I stood out as “super artsy fartsy,” with markers, paints, watercolors at my side.
Later in high school, I advanced to clay, jewelry, and welding. I’ve always enjoyed working with kids and art in nanny and camp jobs. I took courses at Abernathy and Spruill Arts Centers. At one point, I was pursuing welding at Gwinnett Technical College, but it turned out to be too industrial, like rigorous factory work. I was unsure about a career in art, as I attended Kennesaw State and found that their BA program wasn’t vigorous enough. So off I went to Georgia State University for a BA in studio art.
Jaffe: How would you describe your genre?
Levy: I’m primarily a 2-D artist for printmaking, like my themed set “7 Holy Species from the Torah,” depicting olives, pomegranates, grapes, dates, figs, barley and wheat. With Akua ink, I maximize hues of maroon, teal, mustard, dark purple, deep indigo and forest green. I specialize in painting in acrylic, gouache, with a focus on florals, people, colorful funky folk art, and no realism. I’m super inspired by the folk art book “Jewish Spirit: A Celebration in Stories & Art” by Ellen Frankel. Actually, different projects have different approaches. Often, I start painting straight on the canvas in really pale colors to build shapes and blocks, then go back in later with detail. It takes about 40 hours to complete a piece … maybe half that for a smaller one. Sometimes I take week-long breaks. I work in my downtown studio in an informal setting. I also create black-and-white drawings with micron pens on subjects like hamsas for greeting cards.
Jaffe: What’s your end game?
Levy: I know that traditional Judaism discourages tattoos, but I think there is a role for Jewish art in that industry. I am learning how to be a tattoo artist and have about 26 of them, eight of which I did on myself — similar to my art: flowers, plants, candles. I would fill that market void: Culturally relevant Jewish art done by a Jewish person. And no, I didn’t use anesthesia on myself.
Jaffe: How did you arrive at spiritual Jewish art?
Beigh: After Walton High School, Georgia College (BA in communications/marketing) and SCAD, where I got an MA in design management, I came to love creating art and uplifting people. I am deeply passionate about the Kabbalistic belief in the reunification of the Divine Feminine, the Shekinah, to the Divine Masculine to achieve Tikkun Olam. Combined, these led me to spiritual Jewish art. I also spent most of my childhood watching my mom, Linda, creatively transform ideas into her restaurants, Capo’s and Lindy’s Italian Café.
Jaffe: How did Judaism flow in?
Beigh: My birthright trip (2017) sparked my relationship with Judaism. The experience completely transformed me. The energy of Israel woke something deep within my soul, and the Shekinah has followed me since. I quit my job and moved to Tel Aviv. There I participated in a Masa program, Tikkun Olam, working with Eritrean refugees. During a retreat in Tsfat, I was formally introduced to the Shekinah.
Jaffe: Elaborate on the “Divine Feminine.”
Beigh: Although we welcome the Divine Feminine on Shabbat, She lives in exile during the rest of the week. To achieve Tikkun Olam, we need to find more ways to release her from exile, which is my intention with my work. She comes to me in the form of colors, unbounded energy, uncontainable shapes dancing from one movement to the next. Her words speak with a bluntness while landing with softness. She is reflected in my art, and I continue to deepen my understanding of Her through my MA in woman’s spirituality from the California Institute of Integral Studies.
Jaffe: Describe your media.
Beigh: Digital on printed products and clothing and paint on canvas and walls. Commissioned pieces, whether murals, paintings or product partnerships are deeply rewarding as they are uniquely made for the individual or business. I spend time understanding a client’s intentions in how they want to feel or what they need to hear to uplift them and keep them strong. I hold space for those intentions when I create and let that guide the design. Maybe it’s a hospital room infused with hope, comfort, healing or a playroom infused with joy, exploration, unconditional love. It’s a fulfilling and intuitive process for me to create this way. For some pieces, I write custom affirmations after spending time listening to the client while other pieces are infused with private affirmations if shared.
Jaffe: Where can we see your work?
Beigh: Most murals and paintings have been purchased for private homes. My outside mural is visible off the Beltline at Arts Beacon. Online, www.SteffiNicole.com has some pieces, as well as clothing, prints, accessories like the “Tripping Up” fanny pack for sale.
Jaffe: How do you see your work expanding?
Beigh: I have a day planner and online course launching in 2022, called “Mother’s Tongue,” which incorporates my art and transformation consulting experience, so others can navigate a relationship with the Shekinah. I foresee partnering with conscious companies as a guest designer, and I would love to paint multi-storied buildings. By staying open, grounded and connected, my work will expand where it’s wanted and needed!
- Chai Style
- Marcia Caller Jaffe
- Epstein School
- Riverwood International Charter School
- Stephanie Nicole Beigh
- Cinthya Zuniga Photography
- Tamar Levy
- Jewish pomegranate
- Greeting Cards
- print maker
- Jewish folk art
- Divine Feminine
- Jewish Art
- Jewish Themes
- tattoo art
- Sandy Springs
- Abernathy Art Center
- Spruill Art Center
- Gwinnett Technical College
- Kennesaw State University
- Georgia state university
- Jewish Spirit: A Celebration in Stories & Art
- Ellen Frankel
- Jewish person
- Walton High School
- Georgia College
- Tikkun Olam
- BirthRight Trip
- California Institute of Integral Studies
- Beltline at Arts Beacon