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Jewlia Eisenberg collaboration with Charming Hostess and fiscal sponsor Intersection for the Arts

Award: $40,000 Performing Arts Grant Awarded to the Judah L. Magnes Museum, 2008

Premiered: July-October 2010, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Jewlia Eisenberg, Jason Ditzian, and Charming Hostess created performances and an interactive sound sculpture/immersive performance installation titled The Bowls Project. The project was inspired by Babylonian Jewish women’s amulets known as “demon bowls.”

This grant was awarded to Eisenberg for a collaboration with the Judah L. Magnes Museum, which was planning to move to a new building where The Bowls Project would be presented. However, the museum’s board decided against the capital project, and it had to disengage from the project. Later its collection was placed at The Bancroft Library. The grant was transferred to Eisenberg’s performing group, Charming Hostess. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts provided its outdoor sculpture garden as a site for a double-vaulted masonry dome, designed by architect Michael Ramage. The finished structure was extraordinarily strong and charming. Fifty people could sit inside it to listen to music, participate in rituals, or meditate. The walls featured videography by Shezad Dawood. An eclectic series of performances was so warmly received that Yerba Buena extended the original schedule by two months.

Among this project’s unanticipated successes was the ingenious seismic isolation plinth devised for it by Ramage, Michael McCall, Matarozzi/Pelsinger Builders, and Degenkolb Engineers. The plinth won a major civil engineering award.

Jewlia Eisenberg is a composer, extended-technique vocalist, lay cantor, and the founder of the music ensemble Charming Hostess. Her work explores the intersection of text and the sounding body, with a focus on the emotional, erotic, and spiritual terrains that the voice can traverse.