It was a case of perfect timing that led Demetrios Vital to The Graduate School of The Jewish Theological Seminary.
Seated next to JTS professor Dr. Judith Hauptman at a Shabbat lunch, Demetrios inquired about academic opportunities, a discussion that then led to a referral to JTS's Dr. Vivian Mann. Dr. Mann, director of the Master's Program in Jewish Art and Visual Culture, encouraged Demetrios to apply to JTS after learning of his background in art and desire to make it a full-time career.
Now one year into the program in Jewish Art and Visual Culture, Demetrios has found it a perfect fit. "The program is unique and gives me the chance to focus on areas of interest while preparing me for a career," he says.
The range of classes and their relatively small size has been particularly helpful to Demetrios: "I've had so many great classes—such as Directed Readings and Synagogue Art History—and I got to learn from Dr. Mann, who is a leader in her field."
Outside the classroom—as befitting someone majoring in Jewish Art and Visual Culture—Demetrios has explored many of the ancient treasures available in The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary, specifically the Rare Book Room and the conservation lab. The Library also plays host to Volumes, an exhibit of artwork by JTS students, faculty, and staff featuring several of Demetrios's sketches.
His participation with Tobi Kahn in the JTS Artist-in-Residence Program, which produced the Volumes exhibit, has been personally rewarding for Demetrios. In addition, it has been encouraging for him to see how JTS shares his passion for the arts. "From top to bottom, JTS is a place that is very supportive of art in its community. Everyone seems interested in the place of art in Judaism and at JTS, from the students to the chancellor," he says.
With one year left in the program, Demetrios is looking forward to broadening his knowledge base and working with his fellow students as coleader of The Graduate School Student Organization. Clearly, JTS has been a place that Demetrios can describe in large brushstrokes of vitality, community, and an enriching student experience.
Demetrios Vital discusses his participation in Volumes: