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Local Color

Barbara Bensoussan

His pink yarmulke and orange socks are one hint that artist Yitzhok Moully isn’t a typical black-and-white chassid, but the young artist is all about the unexpected — and how the surprises in his work can break barriers and show the deep levels of simchah that everyone can connect to.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

yitzchok moullyThe first thing you notice about Yitzhok Moully is his pink yarmulke.

It’s become something of a trademark, actually. Moully says he wears it because “I like to break barriers. I do a lot of outreach, and my yarmulke always helps break the ice.”

But Yitzhok Moully is all about the unexpected — both in his life, where artistic passion seized hold of him with no prior warning when he was already in his late 20s, and in his art, where you’re likely to notice, amid a silk-screened line of black chassidic figures, one guy sporting the same bright orange socks Moully now playfully lifts his pant leg to display.

Having been catapulted to fame when a film crew from a national TV station broadcast a one-minute interview with him (they’d been in Crown Heights taping a series on chassidic life for a famous talk show host), his work now hangs in venues as diverse as the Emory University Hillel House in Atlanta, the upscale Pardes restaurant in downtown Brooklyn, and galleries in Chelsea, Philadelphia, and Denver. He’s even had an offer to feature his work in a calendar for the coming Jewish year, now being designed for a major supermarket chain.

Moully is not looking to quit his day job, which is working as the assistant rabbi for the Chabad House in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. With a wife and four children, he’s not in much position to go live in a garret. But he’s also cognizant that while a lot of people are capable of working in kiruv, very few are able to reach people through art. Moreover, nobody else has sought to portray Orthodox Judaism using his unique form of witty, lighthearted pop art.

 

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