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Tel Aviv is a city made up of many little neighborhoods, and each one has its own distinctive flavor welcoming to all types of people, whether it’s a technology whiz building their start-up or an artist creating art with their bare hands. Ruth Noam falls into the artist category, and she creates her art in the up-and-coming Florentin neighborhood. Her creations tell not only her life story, but also the story of this vibrant neighborhood.
If you’re looking for the neighborhood of Florentin, look at the southern end of the map of Tel Aviv, where you’ll find a small street labeled Florentin. It may look innocuous, and until a few years ago, it wasn’t a very prosperous or important neighborhood, but today it is filled with many interesting people filling the neighborhood with their combined cultures and stories. It is also a very popular place to spend a Thursday night out, as the streets are filled with fun bars and unique restaurants. The Florentin feeling that anything can happen has been drawing Tel Aviv’s artists to come live and create here.
Born in Morocco, Ruth found her way to Israel. Here, she has raised two children, become a part of the community and built her home in this tiny little neighborhood of Tel Aviv. Like many other artists drawn to Florentin’s possibilities, she set up her studio here where she builds her unique creations, sculpting and welding until they come to life. Although her children are now fully grown, her days aren’t exactly empty, and as an up-and-coming contemporary artist, she tirelessly works to prepare for her shows while still cooking beautiful shabbat dinners for her family. It is all of these life experiences that she puts into her work, from her life to the the neighborhood around her.
Every artist seeks to imbue meaning into their work. The meaning that Ruth gives to her work is about the human struggle — specifically, the struggle to be truly free in this world. Every person’s deepest desire is to be free and live for themselves, and while we constantly struggle towards that goal, Ruth’s conclusion is that ‘even he who believes himself to be free is not free.’ However, what is important is the struggle towards that, it even if it’s an impossible dream. It is in this struggle that human beings forget to stop and understand how their actions affect the rest of the world. It is this struggle for freedom and connection with the world that fascinates Ruth and brings her back to her studio day after day.
Artists are very sensitive to their surroundings, and Ruth is no different. She starts each and every day with a search for inspiration. From the moment she walks out her front door to when she walks into her studio, she searches the streets for new art and new graffiti. What some would call graffiti, Ruth calls art.
The graffiti isn’t the only thing about Florentin that inspires her — it is the very essence of the neighborhood. When in Florentin, you can see that people from all over the world are drawn to this neighborhood. The energy of the young people, the history of the old buildings… sometimes all of these contradictions living together make her feel on edge, and sometimes they make her feel as though she’s flying. “You can feel the material of dreams in Florentin.”