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Eight Approaches: An 8-Part Painting by Joshua Meyer, Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights 2022

By Jewish Arts Collaborative

Published Dec 6, 2022


Eight Approaches

A Painting in eight moments, by Joshua Meyer

oil on board

40 x 100 inches, 2022


Joshua Meyer’s paintings have been circling two themes: light and time. Light is how we see and try to understand. Time describes how we change—questioning whether art can hold multiple, competing truths. Meyer paints people over time by layering thick paint. Each daub holds a memory, and when they overlap, you can see time elapse.

These two themes converge in Chanukah, marking the passing of time with light. Presented as a collaboration between the MFA and JArts, this giant, almost-but-not-quite chanukiah begins by using the teachings, rituals and traditions of the holiday as a lens to think about art and ourselves. Together, the eight paintings nearly coalesce into a narrative, reminding us of side-by-side triptych paintings, narrative comic-book panels or film stills, and of course the eight-armed chanukiah. “Eight Approaches” is a sequence of paintings, hung in a row, but it is really about the spaces in between the paintings. Consequently, it is about the spaces in between people and ideas. 



Artist  Joshua Meyer is known for his thickly-layered paintings of people, and for a searching, open-ended process. The Boston Globe suggests that “These aren’t so much portraits as they are depictions of intimacy.” Meyer has been recognized with The Sustainable Arts Foundation Award, a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, as well as the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Painting Fellowship. The Cambridge, Massachusetts artist studied art at Yale University and The Bezalel Academy, and has exhibited in galleries and museums internationally.

Click here to read Joshua Meyer’s powerful essay “My Guston” on JewishBoston.

Eight Approaches (1-4)

Eight Approaches (5-8)

Eight Approaches (A closer view 1)

Eight Approaches (A closer view 2)

Eight Approaches (A closer view 3)


JArts’ mission is to curate, celebrate, and build community around the diverse world of Jewish arts, culture, and creative expression. Our vision is of a more connected, engaged, and tolerant world inspired by Jewish arts and culture. Learn more at jartsboston.org.


"Each daub holds a memory"

 Imagine each daub of paint on "Eight Approaches" as a memory. Describe what this means for you.


How is this piece of art a hanukkiah without actually being what we might recognize as a hanukkiah/menorah/Hanukkah candelabra?


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