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Harwin's wearable art, prints featured at gallery
The Jewish Review, September 15, 1994

by: Deborah Seldner

From prints and interwoven paper cut-tings to ultrasuede pullovers and "Glorious Crown" hats, the varied works of Portland artist Sara Harwin are on display in the Mittleman Jewish Community Center gallery.

Since selling her first painting in junior high school, Harwin has known she wanted to be an artist. She majored in art at the Univer sity of Michigan and spent one year studying with Wally Schwab at Marylhurst College.

She established Harwin Studios in 1970 when she purchased an antique Washington Proof Press and expanded in 1972 with a press capable of printing works of up to 42 inches by 40 inches.

In recent years, Harwin has turned her attention to fabrics - creating Torah covers; "Konfetti" ultrasuede jackets and pullovers; ultrasuede "Glorious Crown" hats; and three major commissions for Congregation Neveh Shalom; and a set of bima chair covers for Temple Beth Israel in Flint, Mich.

Through all the mediums Harwin has used, she has sought to share her passion in the celebration of life, whether it's a life cycle event - birth, brit milah, b'nai mitzvah or marriage - or just the vitality of people.

The works she has created for Neveh Shalom reflect the spiritual side of her passion. She created a chupah made of wool on a needlepoint canvas, a set of six Torah mantels made from brilliantly colored ultra suede illustrating the themes of fire, air, earth water and the passage of time and an "Elijah's Chair" for use at brit milah and baby namings.

Her Konfetti line of quilted jackets and pullovers represent the "little bits of fun" represented by confetti. She said she hopes the Konfetti items and her Glorious Crown hats, suitable for men or women in religious settings also transmit some of her spiritual feelings.

"I feel like the special care I put into each item...includes something spiritual ... that is picked up by the garment and is felt by the user when they wear it," said Harwin.

Harwin said she has recently added an-other dimension to her art repertoire - help-ing others make a special event more mean ingful for themselves. She recently helped Joseph Shapiro create his own tallit for his Bar Mitzvah at Neveh Shalom. Shapiro tie died the material and then Harwin helped him tie the tzitzit.

Bringing a personalized spirituality into a B'nai Mitzvah is something Harwin hopes she can help other young people achieve. "It's so meaningful to their life or life cycle event helping them tie their tzitzit. Its so exciting to be in on those things," she said.

Harwin's work is on display at the MJCC gallery, 6651 S.W. Capitol Highway, Port-land, through Sept. 30. For information on gallery hours, call 244-O111.

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Harwin Studios   |   9101 SW 15th Ave.   |   Portland, Oregon 97219   |   Phone (503) 246-7479   |   Fax (503) 246-7479   |