Ariela Wertheimer: Former Military Doctor, Mother of Five, and Renowned Israeli Artist
Though the Israeli artist Ariela Wertheimer is renowned in her home country and has exhibited all around the world, she has only been a full-time professional artist for the past 20 years. Before that, she was an x-ray technician and then a volunteer at Rambam Hospital in Haifa and a military doctor for the Israeli Defense Forces.
She is also part of one of Israel’s most prominent families and married to Eitan Wertheimer, who sold his company ISCAR to Warren Buffet for $6 billion. Together, they have five children, Assaf, Sivan, Maya, Daniel and Guy.
Ariela uses paint, ropes, wood, ties, and a variety of other materials and mixed mediums in her projects. Her rope series, for example, was composed of photographs of ropes and fish nets at the Jaffa Port, which were printed on canvas with acrylic paint.
Recently, Ariela’s series of light box portraits, “Jaffa Venice Light Boxes,” was featured in the Venice Biennale 2017. Today, she lives and works in Tel Aviv, and is looking forward to more exhibitions.
Jewess sat down to talk with Ariela about her art, how her prior endeavors shaped who she is, and what she has in store for the future.
Jewess Magazine (JM): Where do you get inspiration for your art?
Ariela Wertheimer (AW): I get my inspiration from every place I go. The people [and] the stories which accompany them. The eyes which can say more than a smile or words. While [traveling] across the globe, I meet people who have a limited amount of freedom for different reasons and there you can see their strengths and the way they deal with situations as well as their acceptance.
JM: What do you do as a volunteer in the hospital?
AW: At the Rambam Hospital, I volunteered for 14 years as an assistant to certified nurses. I bathed and fed patients, changed diapers and sheets, and cleaned patients’ living area. [I did] tasks surrounding the patient and the department. In addition, and more importantly, I formed relationships with the patients through conversations, reading books, [and] interacting and connecting with the families of the patients. Ever since I moved to a different city I haven’t been volunteering at the hospital.
JM: How did serving in the army affect your art?
AW: There isn’t a direct influence of my army service on my art work. It was undoubtedly a meaningful time in my life, very educational, and is indirectly part of who I am today.
JM: What’s your experience in the Israeli art scene been like?
AW: The Israeli art scene is very alive and thriving. In the past 100 years, women have an important and more meaningful place. Since I entered the “art world” relatively late, I’m unfortunately not involved enough.
JM: Are you ever going to show your work in the U.S.?
AW: I would be happy to exhibit my art in the United States. I’ll actually be exhibiting at the Artexpo New York in April 2018. There I’ll be exhibiting many of my works on canvas and from there I would love to continue.
JM: Which artists are you influenced by?
AW: Artists I am influenced by are those who express their personal truth in their works, an idea with depth and a philosophical statement, a breakthrough in thought or a fresh exploit. For example, Rothko and Picasso. I love visiting contemporary galleries as well as museums not just for modern art but art which is also part of history and the roots of that country… sometimes I derive my inspiration from there.
JM: Do any of your kids make art as well?
AW: Four out of five of my children deal with art in one form or another. Sivan Talmor is a musician, producer, and singer. Maya Wertheimer is an actress and comic writer. Daniel Wertheimer writes music and is a musical producer and Guy has recently become interested in designing shoes.
JM: What does your daily life look like?
AW: In my life, as an artist, I assume that I’m not exceptional in the fact that there is a large gap between life and the world we create in our “work.” In my case, I sometimes feel that I’m in the midst of a whirlwind of emotions. Personally, I invest much of my energy in creating but also in attempting to absorb the shocks between the two worlds. I hope to always find the balance and quietness in my life.