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Art & Life with Dwora Fried

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dwora Fried.

Dwora, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
For the past 14 years I have been making mixed-media assemblages, small glass fronted wooden boxes populated with an assortment of vintage toys and dolls, findings from my family home, fabrics, old photographs and bits and pieces from my life in Vienna, Tel Aviv and Los Angeles.

The small rooms evoke what it was like to grow up as an outsider in postwar Vienna: being Jewish, lesbian and a child of holocaust survivors, I learned to see everything through the prism of loss, danger and secrecy. I inherited a sense of isolation, displacement and an appreciation for the surreal. I went to Avni School of Fine Arts and Tel Aviv University in Israel, where I lived for ten years, got married and had my first two children. During that time, I made photo collages combined with water colors and acrylics. I mostly worked on my art at night, after the children went to sleep, a habit that I still have a hard time shaking.

In 1978 I moved to Los Angeles, where I first worked as a tour guide and subsequently at Jewish Family Service, running the senior meal program and creating a newsletter made of photos, poems and stories supplied by the seniors. I got divorced and fell in love with an Egyptian American woman. We have been together for 36 years and have two additional children together. My assemblages have been shown relatively late in my life, but I am proud to have had solo shows at the Museo Ebraico in Venice, Italy, in Vienna, London and Los Angeles.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I started making dioramas, when my mother developed dementia and I would visit her in her small apartment in Vienna and watch her sit silently in her armchair without saying a word all day long. I looked through her old photographs, discovered shopping bags, neatly folded, from old shops that no longer existed, bags of garter clips, fabrics, metal bobbin spools from her old sowing machine…. She wasn’t a hoarder but organized her stuff without throwing anything away.

At flea markets, I looked for vintage dolls and toys from the 40’s and 50’s. As I started assembling my dioramas, I realized that I was recreating my childhood and that I had found my medium.
At first glance, the pieces seem to be colorful miniature dollhouse rooms; however their small size forces the viewer to get closer and share that intimate sense of not belonging, of being an outsider regardless of where you end up living. My favorite part of working with 3D assemblages is the element of movement, similar to the Live Photos, on the iPhone, which came out a few years ago.

Recently, I started creating large room-scaled boxes, interactive installations that invite viewers to enter and become part of the narrative. While my art is still haunted by the remembrance of my early childhood in Vienna, the whimsy and the not so imaginary dangers I experienced on a visceral level, my work also comments on the current political climate.

Do you think conditions are generally improving for artists? What more can cities and communities do to improve conditions for artists?
There is no doubt that it is difficult to be an artist, especially a female artist and a mother/artist.
Even though I never stopped making art while raising my family and working full time, I had to make many compromises: I never went to openings, there just was no time for that; I had to work on my art at night. I had no artist support group.

There was little time to go to museums and galleries, unless it was a family outing.
But the internet changed our lives for the better. We are more connected, we post our work online and visit many galleries and art studios virtually. Micol Hebron’s Gallery Tally addresses gender equality and feminism in the arts, empowering women, people of color and the LGBTQ communities

I found great support being a member of the Southern California Women’s Caucus for the Arts, The Los Angeles Art Association/Gallery 825 and until recently being supported by Shoebox PR.
I always recommend artists to galleries and vice versa, post artist’s openings or reviews on my Facebook Artist Page and invite diverse artists for dinners and studio visits.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I just finished 3 exhibits last month at Fullerton College Art Gallery, Orange County Center for Contemporary Art and Arena 1 Gallery. Last week I returned from Vienna where I have several artworks in the permanent collection of Wien Museum MUSA. We are working on a collaboration between Los Angeles artists and artists from Vienna for 2 exhibits that will take place in both countries. Details will be on my web page

Coming up in May I will be in a group show at Keystone Art Space
May 10 – May 22, 2018
“Mothers, Eggshells and the People Who Birthed Us” curated by Kim Abeles
For Gay Pride Month in June, I will have work in the annual LGBTQ Heritage Catalogue of the Department of Cultural Affairs.

My interactive BIG QUEER BOX will be displayed during Outfest: The Gay and Lesbian Film Festival at the Harmony Gold Theatre in Los Angeles.

Three of my artworks will be in the upcoming group show “Out There” curated by Jessica Silverman, opening June 8 at Los Angeles Art Association/Gallery 825.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
All photos of my artwork : Photographed by Joshua White Photography

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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