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Project Betzalel Presents Dena Perlmutar: A Zest for Living – a Zest for Art!

Written by: Denise Gordon

Dena Perlmutar has many talents, but at the top of the list is juggler par excellence. Throughout her life, she has balanced the roles of ceramicist, jewelry designer, teacher, mother, mentor, volunteer, chorister, baker, and traveler, without losing a step. In her latest iteration as full-time artist, Dena has drawn from these rich experiences to create functional ceramic art and beautifully crafted jewelry that reflects her zest for living life to the brim.

Dena, a native Torontonian, always felt the pull of a creative life since she was a child. There was seldom a time when she was not immersed in art, be it drawing, pottery, sculpture, or jewelry making classes.  Dena took degrees in Psychology and Education at the University of Toronto, paving her way for a career as a teacher with the Toronto District School Board. While working with children with special needs, Dena found that she could best serve many of her learners through integrating arts and pottery into her programs. Dena was able to give students the gift of art as a powerful vehicle for creative and expressive communication.

In 2013, following her retirement from 31 years of full-time teaching, Dena has devoted herself to her love affair with clay; presently she belongs to a women’s art coop, a place that is now central to her life. Her shared studio enables her every opportunity to hone her craft with fellow artists in a supportive environment. “I just like making things; I’m inspired by the process and by the 19 other women in the studio where I make my pottery.”

Dena also looks to the world for artistic revelation – from both sacred and profane sources. She divines ideas from her far-flung travels (presently she is in India) as well as from closer locales like the facades of Toronto synagogues and secular buildings; she also delights in graphic patterns from items as mundane as shower curtains. All are food for thought and Dena’s eyes are wide open to receive inspiration.

Likewise, Dena’s female Torontonian Jewish identity continues to joyously inform her work. Her vibrant and colourful Judaica, be it sedar plates, chanukiah, or shabbat candles and challah plates, are all crafted carefully with loving, maternal hands. They are created with a deep respect for the celebrations that they honour.  Some of her secular pieces, like her homage to Torontonian buildings, designed on ceramic plates in relief, illustrate her reverential attention to the place she calls home. Look carefully and you might recognize an edifice of an historic synagogue or two that mark our cityscape. Alternatively, she playfully and sensuously captures the feminine in her zuftig, voluptuous clay vases and planters that dignify the full-bodied female form.

Dena’s unique ceramic collection is saturated with a vibrant zest for life. It will be showcased in Holy Blossom’s Atrium on March 22nd, 2020, and in the Judaica Shop in the weeks to follow. There will also be a smaller curated collection of Dena’s jewelry, which finds inspiration from the world of fresh-water pearls.

We invite you to meet Dena Perlmutar on March 22 and to view her beautifully handcrafted pieces; see for yourself how an object infused with a bissel of whimsy and Yiddishkeit can bring joy into your heart and into your home.


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  • Marilyn R

    great article nice to know

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