AJM: Past Exhibitions
Current / Past Exhibits
Emily Newman and the New Chelyuskinites
November 10, 2014–January 8, 2015
Emily Newman’s The New Chelyuskinites is equal parts social documentary, tableaux and oral history. Modeled after the calamitous 1933-34 Russian sea expedition that trapped 111 people on arctic ice for two months after their ship—the Chelyuskin—sank, The New Chelyuskinites draws upon the collective memories of the event and its aftermath.
Participants from different generations worked together with Newman to represent the expedition, its shipwreck, what it took for people to survive, the expedition’s rescue and their ceremonial decoration. The exhibition includes video and print documentation of participants recreating various stages of the expedition and a small-scale model of the Chelyuskin just before its demise. Built for children to climb and play on, the ship’s model aims to prompt the JCC’s Russian-American community to relate childhood stories and talk more about Russia and the Soviet Union with AJM visitors.
While a disastrous expedition that occurred 80 years ago in the Arctic Sea might seem a remote topic for consideration today, the launch of the Chelyuskin was an historic undertaking. It signaled noteworthy scientific achievements and beckoned toward unprecedented commercial opportunities. Although technically a failure, the expedition’s tenacity and successful rescue shocked the world. Strangely, it was victory of sorts for communism, which was claimed to have been the secret explaining their survival.
The New Chelyuskinites creates a platform for current-day Russians, both here and abroad, to share memories from the Soviet era. Based on two years of collaboration between Newman and participants from Pittsburgh’s Russian community, and one year working in St. Petersburg, Russia, the project intertwines individual voices with broader truths about this period in world history.
My Voice, My Memoir, My Pittsburgh
October 20–December 30, 2014
My Voice, My Memoir, My Pittsburgh is a community-wide Six-Word Memoir project with Congregation B’nai Abraham, New Light Congregation, Temple Sinai and Tree of Life Or L’Simcha Congregation. The 78 memoirs they submitted make up the exhibition. The congregations’ meaningful memoir-writingactivities and conversations led to stimulating six word stories. Together, the
Six-Word Memoirs add to the constellation of narratives that relate a personal, yet collective account about Jewish life in Pittsburgh today.
Ours is a community made up of Jews representing the entire Jewish spectrum. We may see ourselves in some memoirs and appreciate the plucky humor of others. Some may challenge our individual values that stimulate discussion, test our tolerance, conjure old memories or make us laugh. Seen together, the memoirs narrate the multiple ways we express, define, interpret, and celebrate our Jewish beliefs.
SMITH Magazine launched this literary genre in 2006. It called these succinct life stories “Six-Word Memoirs,” a reinvention
of the form that, according to literary lore, Ernest Hemmingway engaged in after his colleagues challenged him to write a story in six words. Hemingway wrote: “For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.”
Over the last eight years the Six-Word Memoir project has taken on a life of its own. It has become a bestselling book series, board game and a popular teaching tool used across the world to help foster self-expression.
Visit www.sixwordmemoirs.com for resources about devising your own memoir-writing project.
This Is Not A Dream
May 19-July 25
Fine Perlow Weis Gallery, Kaufmann Building
Artists' reception: Tuesday, June 17, 6-8 pm
Artists: Kim Beck, Lauren Braun, Oreen Cohen, Orit Hofshi, Ben Schachter, Becky Slemmons, Scott Turri
This Is Not A Dream brings together seven artists whose work wrestles with how personal influences shape perceptions of space. The exhibit's title nods to Theodor Herzl's 1902 novel Old-New Land, in which Herzl imagined a future Israel, luring readers to conjure a vision of a place and willing it to become real. Similarly, the artists here examine concepts that summon space as an idea, impression, memory and muse and not merely a constructed environment.
Additional artist information:
Kim Beck: http://www.idealcities.com/ or http://www.mixedgreens.com/
Lauren Braun: http://www.thelaurenbraun.com/
Oreen Cohen: http://www.oreencohen.com/
Orit Hofshi: http://www.orithofshi.com/ or http://www.locksgallery.com/
Ben Schachter: http://www.benschachter.com/Welcome.html
Becky Slemmons: http://www.beckyslemmons.com/
Scott Turri: http://scottturri.com/home.html or http://www.jamesgallery.net/
Docent tours are available for small or large groups. Educational tours with the exhibit curator are available for teachers and students. Events are free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required.
Light Your Spark Tours
Light Your Spark tours for people with memory loss and their care partners are available.
Synagogues of Prague and Budapest:
April 7-June 30, 2014
Berger Gallery ∙ Robinson building
Synagogues of Prague and Budapest: David Aschkenas includes twenty-three mesmerizing photographs of the architecture of synagogues taken by Aschkenas during three visits to Prague and Budapest between 2011-2013. Aschkenas's photography captures the awe-inspiring grandeur of many sites traditionally closed to the public and reveals a close inspection of the human aspects of these ritual places, without relying on human figures.
Conjuring the narrative and collective memory of the communities attached to these synagogues, Aschkenas's photographs of well-used desks, threadbare chairs, and remnants of cloth expose the deeply rooted tradition of Jewish community and religious ritual with heightened sense of reality.
Notably, Aschkenas's works will be simultaneously exhibited at the American Jewish Museum and the Jubilee Synagogue in Prague, Czech Republic.
Synagogues of Prague and Budapest: David Aschkenas is made possible by The Fine Foundation.
Micaela Amateau Amato: Cante Jondo for Tikkun Olam
Through April 25, 2014
Opening Reception and Alba Flamenca performance
Saturday, March 22, 2014 – 7-9PM FREE
American Jewish Museum
Alba Flamenca performance
Saturday, March 22, 2014 – 8:15-9:00pm FREE
American Jewish Museum, Katz Theater
Micaela Amateau Amato: Cante Jondo for Tikkun Olam is an exhibition that includes paintings, cast glass and ceramic sculptures and Neon text, and conveys Amato’s Sephardic Jewish heritage. Amato is influenced by the origins of Islamic, Romani and Jewish sources evident in flamenco poetry, music and dance. Cante Jondo for Tikkun Olam translates to “Deep Song to Heal the Earth and Repair the World”.
Cante Jondo, deep song, references flamenco’s most emotionally intense form. Amato is especially compelled by flamenco’s rootsderiving from the convergence of disparate cultures, which at various times in history, coexisted in relative harmony. As a Sephardic Jew with Spanish and Moroccan heritage, she relates to these shared roots. She connects her artwork with the soul and intensity of flamenco to the anguish she internalizes about the Spanish Jewish diaspora. She considers her work as aiding the healing of ailments deep within the subconscious that diaspora creates. Amato’s artist statement expresses the ideas that undergird her work: “These works are grounded in an acute awareness of the web of the ancient past interconnected within the present and rooted in the natural world.”
Drawing upon the shared roots between Judaism and flamenco, Carolina Loyola- Garcia and the Alba Flamenca ensemble will present a flamenco performance during the opening reception. The Alba Flamenca ensemble will bring the deep song (cante jondo) and mournful emotion of Micaela Amato’s artwork to life through song and dance. Alba Flamenca is a Pittsburgh-based ensemble that performs in venues throughout the city.
The Circus of Life: Work by Susan Winicour (1939-2013) includes key paintings and works on paper representing Winicour’s prolific output and focuses on work that while lively, depicts the pathos of the complexities of human interactions and relationships. The figures in her work often convey a paradoxical sense of enjoyment and detachment. They cavort, entertain, and perform with theatricality for audiences as well as for one another. Yet, many of her compositions possess edgy qualities that hint toward tension and unease. With virtuosic skill, Winicour mines a wide variety of influences from German Expressionism to ordinary visual vernacular.
Work by Susan Winicour will be for sale in a silent auction during the opening reception and for the exhibit’s duration. Additional work can be purchased at winicour.com. Ms. Winicour’s family is generously donating sale proceeds to the AJM.
Ben Sota, creator of Pittsburgh’s famed Zany Umbrella Circus, will perform a piece inspired by Winicour’s work at the opening reception. Bringing Winicour’s imagery to life, Sota’s show uses circus, theatre, and puppetry, and is appropriate for people of all ages. Extraordinary and intrepid in their approach to the circus, the Zany Umbrella Circus awes and delights; entertainer Wavy Gravy sums them up candidly: “His [Ben Sota, of the Zany Umbrella Circus] performances on the Trapeze and Spanish Web are so imaginative and breathtaking they must be seen to be believed.” A successful troupe with international acclaim, the Zany Umbrella Circus conducted a circus performance in 2005 at the White House Congressional Picnic. For more information visit zanyumbrellacircus.com
Supporters/funders to date for The Circus of Life: Work by Susan Winicour include: Zivi Aviraz, Sara and Ahmie Baum, Kathi De Passe, Joan Downing, Frances Gialamas, Myra and Fred Feldman, Leslie Golomb and Ronald Hartman, Adrienne and Ted Heinrich, Alice and Norman Jaffe, Jane and Bud Kahn, Judy Koppel, Lisa Laskow, Helen Naimark, Ellen Chisdes Neuberg, Susan Pollins, Aline Shader, Phiris Sickels, Huvvy and Meyer Simon, Francine and Dirk Vandenberg, Karen Vanderven, Edris and David Weis, and Kathleen Zimbicki. Major funding for the American Jewish Museum is provided by the Allegheny Regional Asset Board, the Anna L. Caplan & Irene V. Caplan Fund of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, the Robert C. and Gene B. Dickman Fund, Ira and Nanette Gordon Curator Enrichment Fund, Edward N. and Jane Haskell Endowment Creative Projects Fund, the Nancy Bernstein and Robert Schoen Endowment Fund, Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts, and individual support. Light Your Spark support is provided by The Hyman Family Foundation.
Dina Kantor: Finnish and Jewish
October 14–December 27, 2013
Fine Perlow Weis Gallery
New York based photographer Dina Kantor explores the relationship between photography and the representation of individual identity and collective community. As the exhibition title suggests, Kantor is both Finnish and Jewish. Raised in Minnesota, Kantor was lured to Finland in 2006 to connect to an unknown aspect of her heritage and to explore what contemporary Jewishness might be like in the remote Nordic region.
In a nation of only 5.3 million people with just two Jewish synagogues, Kantor employs portrait photography to consider an important issue as we become increasingly multicultural: “How do 1,500 Jews maintain cultural identity?” While this question may be specific to Finland’s Jews, it is also a global issue as highly individualized ideas about observance, practice and meaning are supplanting the need for affiliation and formal associations.
A Stitch in Jewish Time: Provocative Textiles
Fine Perlow Weis Gallery
May 12–July 28, 2013
A Stitch in Jewish Time: Provocative Textiles is a group exhibition including work by contemporary artists from the United States and abroad who employ textiles to explore conceptual, social, religious, historical or identity issues. Challenging the long history of Jewish textiles and their utilitarian uses as Torah covers, prayer shawls, rugs, challah and matzah covers, the artists here use textiles primarily as an expressive medium. The exhibition was originally organized by Laura Kruger, Curator of the Hebrew Union College Museum in New York City.
A Stitch in Jewish Time includes work by well-known artists as well as lesser-known artists. Pittsburgh artists Leslie Golomb and Louise Silk are also included in the exhibition. Each meshes their wide-ranging interest in Judaism with textiles to create compelling, challenging, and sometimes humorous, works.
Undoubtedly, Kruger asserts, the artists included in A Stitch in Jewish Time change our conception of textiles, fibers and materials, form, construction,and creative reach. Each work is outstanding and leaves an indelible impression that expands our perception of contemporary art and enhances our understanding of Jewish history, experience, and values.
The American Jewish Museum of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh explores contemporary Jewish art with programs that facilitate dialogue about art, philosophy, and culture.
The Eye of the Collector: Images of the New World from the Sigmund Balka
- Collector Builds a View of a New World by Pittsburgh Trib
- The Jewish Chronicle
- Collector Searches for Jewish Aesthetic in Art by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Eye of the Collector: Images of the New World from the Sigmund Balka Collection features a selection of works on paper from the Sigmund R. Balka Collection.
The collection includes European and American Jewish artists as well as Jewish themes in work by non-Jewish artists. Balka, who has been tenaciously acquiring art for the past 50 years, recently gifted his collection of more than 200 pieces to New York’s Hebrew Union College Museum.
Perhaps to a greater extent than any other individual in recent years, Balka has amassed a body of work that reflects and records Jewish secular andreligious experiences in Europe and America. One of the great strengths of his collection, excellent individual examples aside, is that one can read it as a chronological history of those experiences and as such it provides a wonderfully informative visual record of Jewish life over the last two centuries: the Jewish street and scenes of Jewish urban life, the practice of religious life, expressions of nostalgia for the Old World and acculturation in the New World, secular politics of change in which deracinated Jewish identity was channeled into modern political progress during the Depression, artistic responses to the Holocaust, and the emergence of Jewish women artists.
Images of the New World includes drawings by 30 artists and focuses on work that explores artists’ observations, reflections and anxieties of survival and assimilation as newly arrived immigrants navigating the bustling city. The myriad challenges of modernity are evoked in works by Max Ferguson, Isaac Friedlander, Saul Raskin, Larry Rivers and Raphael Soyer, among many others. Seemingly images of a bygone era, themes of class struggle, alienation, and identity resonate as much now as then.
- Pittsburgh artist's works are a study in classification
by Pittsburgh Trib
- Digging Pittsburgh Blog
- The Jewish Chronicle
Radiant Circles: Ruth E. Levine’s Generous Life explores Levine’s artistic contributions. The first comprehensive exhibition of Levine’s work, Radiant Circles assembles key work from various artistic stages.
With a few salient exceptions, the imagery in Levine’s paintings and drawings are abstract. She gravitated toward representing lines and patterns, which remained dominant elements throughout her career. Many of Levine’s pieces incorporate interlocking repeating shapes like squares, rectangles and circles, as well as circles within circles, which create arrays and patterns. A recurring shape for Levine, circles appear in lone drawings as well as in works that make up series. Also prevalent are intricate pencil and pen and ink drawings, often on paper she made, constructed of hand-drawn lines of differing colors stacked upon the other.
A polymath, she drew from mathematics, science, literature, poetry, mythology and history as well as from music and photography. The evocative
titles she assigned her works overtly reference Homer, Italo Calvino and Franz Kafka. Other titles derive from her extensive reading of Inuit, Nabatean, pre-World War II Japanese, and Kuba cultures. As the works’ titles and literary sources suggest, Levine wrestles with big ideas including the logic of patterns and systems, the way information is classified and understood, forms of communication like language and symbols, and societal events that have shaped humans’ trajectory with particular interest in cultural shifts and catalysts that privilege some and marginalize others.
Like many artists who use abstraction as a way of penetrating to unseen truths beneath surface appearances the reductive and abstracted visual vocabulary Levine employs expresses her vision of the mysteries and incongruities of life.
Isaac Bashevis Singer and His Artists
April 4–June 25, 2012
Isaac Bashevis Singer (1902–1991), a towering figure among modern Yiddish writers in America, wrote his entire oeuvre of 86 books and numerous stories in Yiddish. Many of his books and stories, steeped in his Jewish and Polish heritage, have been translated into English, and over 30 of them have been illustrated.
Isaac Bashevis Singer and His Artists features illustrations by fourteen artists who produced artwork for Singer’s stories. Artists included the exhibition: Des Asmussen, Eric Carle, William Pene DuBois, Leonard Everett Fisher, Antonio Frasconi, Nonny Hogrogian, Julian Jusim, Irene Lieblich, Ira Moskowitz, Larry Rivers, Maurice Sendak, Symeon Shimin, Uri Shulevitz, Raphael Soyer, Phero Thomas, Roman Vishniac, and Margot Zemach.
Based on his keen observations and genuine love of pious, superstitious, earthy, heroic, resourceful, and tragic figures, his works continue to live in our collective memories. The fictional characters blur the lines between folk tales, legends, supernatural powers, and the harsh reality, fear, anxiety, and despair of surviviving.
Many of Singer’s artists have been recognized with prestigious awards including the Caldecott Medal, Newbery Award, Pulitzer Prize, and the Hans Christian Andersen Medal. Singer received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1978, marking the capstone of his career as well as a notable success for Yiddish literature.
Isaac Bashevis Singer and His not only reveals layers of storytelling via words and images, but also presents a variety of styles. Photography, painting, graphic design, and wood-block prints are a few modes of representation that artists chose to translate Singer’s words into lasting images.
Major funding for the American Jewish Museum is provided by the Allegheny Regional Asset Board, the Anna L. Caplan & Irene V. Caplan Fund of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, the Robert C. and Gene B. Dickman Fund, Ira and Nanette Gordon Curator Enrichment Fund, Edward N. and Jane Haskell Endowment Creative Projects Fund, the Nancy Bernstein and Robert Schoen Fund, Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts, and individual support.
Fabric of Life: Wall Hangings
April 10–July 27, 2012
Opening Reception: April 18, 2012, 7:30 pm
On display for the first time in the United States, Fabric of Life: Wall Hangings features dynamic textiles created by members of Kishorit, a kibbutz in Israel established in 1997 that fosters artistic development and facilitates independence for those with physical, emotional and mental challenges.
Participants of Kishorit’s wall hanging group are self-taught rather than conventionally trained artists. They design and create vibrant and compelling work that is visually exciting and rife with meaning.
Through color selection, imagery, and composition, members’ background, mood, and tastes are often distinctly reflected in their creations. Participating in Kishorit’s wall-hanging group not only provides creative outlets for personal expression but also facilitates friendships, and ultimately, deepens the sense of community.
These pieces bring the personal presence of each and every member of the group. This one’s splash of color and that one’s collage display their personal fingerprint in the community. It’s impossible not to be moved by them and not to relate to the creator who created them.
-Yael Shilo, artist and Kishorit Chairperson
Kishorit is an overseas grantee of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and is located in its Partnership2Gether (P2G) region in Israel. The Partnership2Gether program, a project of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and the Jewish Agency for Israel engages the local and Israeli communities in initiatives that build people-to-people connections.
The wall hangings included in Fabric of Life will be for sale with proceeds benefiting Kishorit.
Support for Fabric of Life: Wall Hangings is provided by an anonymous donor. Major funding for the American Jewish Museum provided by the Allegheny Regional Asset Board, the Anna L. Caplan & Irene V. Caplan Fund of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, the Robert C. and Gene B. Dickman Fund, Ira and Nanette Gordon Curator Enrichment Fund, Edward N. and Jane Haskell Endowment Creative Projects Fund, the Nancy Bernstein and Robert Schoen Fund, Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts, and individual support.
FREE Family Workshop:
Fun with Yiddish Song
Sunday, June 3 // 10-11 am // JCC, Squirrel Hill
Featuring Susan Leviton vocalist and storyteller. Accompanied by accordionist Lauren Brody. Sing along and act out songs. Have fun with Yiddish terms and lyrics.
Geared to ages 3-10, Snacks provided.
Isaac Bashevis Singer's World in Art and Song
Sunday, June 3 // 3-4 pm // JCC, Squirrel Hill
The workshop and concert are inspired by the richness of Yiddish culture rooted in the heart of I.B. Singer's stories, and presented in conjunction with the exhibit Isaac Bashevis Singerand His Artists, at the American Jewish Museum through June 25.
Susan Leviton, nationally known vocalist and story-teller, has been performing for over 25 years. She performed with Zalmen Mlotek, National Yiddish Theater-Folksbiene Director, during the 2010 Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival. Lauren Brody is an acclaimed accordionist, Yiddish singer and scholar of Bulgarian folk music.
This project is partially supported by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, the Federal-State Partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities and by a grant from Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour, a program developed and funded by The Heinz Endowments; the William Penn Foundation; the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency; and The Pew Charitable Trusts; and administered by Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. Additional support is provided by individual contributions.
Samantha Zucker: The Fearbox Project
March 2-30, 2012
Fear is the most basic of human emotions. The Fearbox Project is a particpative art-based research project created to better understand our experiences with this often ignored aspect of our lives. Audiences may recall the Fearbox Project was on view at Rodef Shalom last spring. The exhibit explores what, how and why we fear.
Fine Perlow Weis Gallery
The Anna L. and Irene V. Caplan Exhibit
A buffoonish crime fighter who uses wit and gags for weapons, Funnyman is the antithesis of noble Superman. Ironically, not only were both created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster but the duo created Funnyman on the heels of Superman. Made in theirs and actor Danny Kaye’s image, Funnyman’s Jewishness comes from an inherent essence rather than from Jewish characteristics derived from stereotypes. On display for the first time ever, Super Silly is comprised of 50 original Funnyman comic storyboards.
You Are So Fly: the most awesome heroes was a six-week comic zine making workshop organized by the AJM for Pittsburgh area teens in grades 8–12. The workshop incorporated concepts drawn from Super Silly! exhibit topics, including humor, power, heroism and identity. Participants collaborated to create a comic zine derived from their experiences and their community. Artist Maritza Mosquera, educator and writer Luqmon Abdus-Salaam, and comics artist Kristopher Smith provided artistic direction. Participants worked together closely, discussing current issues, drawing, writing, completing story-telling exercises together, and learning print-making at the Artist Image Resource print-making lab. Participants came from the Falk Laboratory School, Pittsburgh Allegheny, Sister Thea Bowman Catholic Academy, Barack Obama Academy of International Studies and the Urban Pathways Charter School.
This project was made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Super Silly! is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by Feral House Publishing, Betty and Joseph Ellovich, and Marcia and Bob Frumerman. Major funding for the American Jewish Museum provided by the Allegheny Regional Asset Board, the Anna L. Caplan & Irene V. Caplan Fund of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, the Robert C. and Gene B. Dickman Fund, Ira and Nanette Gordon Curator Enrichment Fund, Edward N. and Jane Haskell Endowment Creative Projects Fund, the Nancy Bernstein and Robert Schoen Fund, Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts, and individual support.
Opening Reception: January 23, 7-9 pm
Presentation by Ambassador Herman Portocarero, Consul General of Belgium
Resulting from a remarkable convergence of entrepreneurship, widespread social upheaval, and shifts in artistic practice, One Foot in America explores the compelling narratives of Jewish immigrants during the late 19th and early 20th century rendered by Belgian artist Eugeen Van Mieghem (1875-1930) as they embarked on the journey from Antwerp to the United States on board the Red Star Line.
Influenced by French painter Jean-François Millet and other modern artists who eschewed Romanticism’s embellishments and instead objectively represented everyday life, Eugeen Van Mieghem was captivated by the clamorous scenery occurring in the port of Antwerp, fortuitously located near his residence. What intrigued Van Mieghem’s creative sensibilities was the swarm of immigrants from throughout Europe waiting to depart on the Red Star Line to the United States. Numerous variables brought travelers to Antwerp’s port, including the appeal of beginning a new life and the prospects of gaining economic freedom and personal liberties in America. The pin, for example, on the lapel of Mario Puzo’s Vito Corleone read Red Star Line. Many of those gathered in the port, however, were Eastern European and Russian Jews, including Albert Einstein, Golda Meir, and Irving Berlin, escaping pogroms and devastating systemic oppression. For Van Mieghem, who aspired to express human plight in artistic terms, the profound human spectacle unfolding in this condensed locale was abundantly fertile.
It was the Red Star Line, a lucrative ocean passenger line founded in 1871 by Philadelphian Clement Griscom, which facilitated Van Mieghem’s aspirations and enabled so many beleaguered individuals to escape poverty and oppression. A staggering 2.7 million people left for the United States aboard the Red Star Line between 1871 and 1934, when the line folded. Considered one of the principal shipping lines for immigrants at the turn of the last century, the Friends of the Red Star Lines organization estimates that 30% to 40% of Jewish Americans have ancestors who sailed on the Red Star Line.
The exhibition is comprised of 31 paintings, charcoals, and pastels depicting Van Mieghem’s interpretations of the Jewish immigrant experience in Antwerp. Ephemeral material comprised of Red Star Line menus, postcards, passenger lists and photographs are also included. Interpretative panels detail the history and importance of the Red Star Line, which not only transported immigrants but also had luxury liners that carried passengers including John D. Rockefeller Jr. and his family (who were on board the line’s SS Finland in 1905).
This is the final American venue for the exhibition before it returns to Belgium. One Foot in America: The Jewish Emigrants of the Red Star Line and Eugeen Van Mieghem was organized by Friends of the Red Star Lines and the Van Mieghem Museum.
Major funding for the American Jewish Museum provided by the Allegheny Regional Asset Board, the Anna L. Caplan & Irene V. Caplan Fund of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, the Robert C. and Gene B. Dickman Fund, Ira and Nanette Gordon Curator Enrichment Fund, Edward N. and Jane Haskell Endowment Creative Projects Fund, the Nancy Bernstein and Robert Schoen Fund, Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts, and individual support.
Besa: Albanian Muslims Who Saved Jews During the Holocaust uses photography to explore the will of one religious community to protect another under perilous conditions. Bringing the exhibition to Pittsburgh is a collaborative effort between the AJM, the Holocaust Center of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, and the Pittsburgh Area Jewish Committee (PAJC). The three local organizations share this little known historical event to demonstrate that religious, social, and political differences can be overcome, even under extreme circumstances like those of the Holocaust.
The events depicted in this exhibition represent a momentous achievement of interfaith cohesion between Jews and Muslims. Protecting Jews would have resulted in persecution while Albania was under German occupation (1943-44). Yet, Albanian citizens, religious leaders, and politicians managed to save nearly all of the Jews, natives and refugees alike, in the country.
Besa: Albanian Muslims Who Saved Jews During the Holocaust includes 41 black and white portraits of Albanian Muslim individuals and families who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. Photographer Norman Gershman, in partnership with his friend and photographer Stuart Huck, spent over six years in Albania recording the stories and capturing the images of the country’s Muslim heroes.
Global understanding and altruism are the ideals that drives the exhibition. Besa brings to light a traditional Albanian code of honor called Besa, which means “to keep the promise.” Besa, developed by Albanians through their interpretation of Islam, is an ethical principle fundamental to Albanian life.
Abiding by one’s Besa entails risking one’s life for anyone in danger, regardless of racial, political, or religious differences. Albanian Muslims attribute their heroism to the unwavering moral code Besa as if no other behavior were acceptable.
Underscoring the importance of promoting understanding among people of different backgrounds, J-SITE, the AJM and PAJC will also be hosting a discussion surrounding exhibition topics led by Jewish and Muslim teens for teen audiences on November 2nd from 6:30-8:30 pm at the AJM.
Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial and Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion Museum sponsor this exhibition.
Besa Community Partners include Classrooms Without Borders, Congregation Dor Hadash, J-SITE, Light of the Age Mosque, Muslim Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, Muslim-Jewish Discussion Group, National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education, SFH Islamic Interfaith Network and Turkish Cultural Center Pittsburgh.
Visit Yad Vashem online or call the JCC at 412.521.8010 to learn more about Besa: Albanian Muslims Who Saved Jews During the Holocaust.
Major funding for the American Jewish Museum is provided by the Allegheny Regional Asset Board, the Anna L. Caplan & Irene V. Caplan Fund of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, the Robert C. and Gene B. Dickman Fund, the Nancy Bernstein and Robert Schoen Fund, the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts, and individual support. Exhibition funding for the Holocaust Center is provided by the Holocaust Center Endowment Fund.
Too Shallow for Diving: the 21st Century is Treading Water
May 16-July 28, 2011
The exhibition Too Shallow for Diving: the 21st Century is Treading Water, guest curated by artist and educator Carolyn Speranza explores the environment, especially those issues surrounding water and its impact on our planet, human health and public welfare. This diverse and complex show is emblematic of a growing number of projects and exhibitions manifested internationally over the past decade. All of the artists address issues of water in their art, investigating its aesthetic qualities, its function as a source of food, its life giving essence, its cycles, climate change and its scarcity and contamination. Many of the explorations represent a fusion between the arts and sciences. For the most part this work readily comes under the heading of sustainable art—a wide-scale inter-and trans-disciplinary analysis of the arts and cultures that includes ecology, social justice, non-violence and interdisciplinary collaborations.
My Questions and Yours: An Inquiry
Growing up in New Jersey, it was essential that we went to the beach. That’s just what we did. If we didn’t go to the Jersey shore, we drove to Maryland. We camped on Assateague Island, a barrier island with pristine beaches, wild ponies, and park rangers who taught us to walk through, not over, the sand dunes. You might wonder, "Why was that important?" We learned that it is the dunes that keep the island from washing out to sea. "A small price to pay," we thought, for the time of our lives every summer. Instead of inventing our own pathways, we dutifully walked to the beach using designated ones.
Fast forward three decades, and as I hear climate change experts discuss the impending threat of rising sea levels, I'm left wondering what's going to happen to the sacred island of my childhood. It's not a place I'm willing to lose in exchange for human overproduction of carbon dioxide. In October 2009, President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives Islands convened an underwater cabinet meeting to emphasize the threatening demise of his country. The rising sea was beginning to cover his islands and could displace his people. "Climate Change Refugee" is a new and scary term, but it will fit the population of the Maldives, unless human behavior is altered on a global level.
Holding an underwater government meeting holds a certain type of surreal and even Dada-esque appeal. I consider the loss of beautiful and wondrous ecosystems we will suffer from with the drowning of small island states across the globe. As we continue to put carbon dioxide into our atmosphere, the temperature of the planet increases, glacial ice melts, sea levels rise, and islands are covered by the very thing that gave them life.
Since the advent of the industrial age, human impact on the environment and depletion of the earth's resources has never been more apparent than during the past decade. It's only been in the 21st century that the effects of global warming have become undeniable and are now part of public discourse. While volumes have been said about fossil fuel shortages, issues about water are rarely mentioned. Water is one of those resources that we take for granted. In addition to pollution, loss of aquatic species, and the demise of coral reefs, there are even bigger problems on the horizon. Water presents issues that are not in the forefront of many Americans' concerns, especially in the bright light of the country's economic turn down, our involvement in two wars, and the national debate on healthcare.
WHAT DIFFERENCE CAN ARTISTS MAKE?
Some people believe that the purpose of an artist is to be her community's soothsayer. In his plays, Shakespeare had the truth told by a fool in the guise of a court comedian. Likewise, the role of the artist is to bring the unspoken to the surface. Artists are distinguished by their own language: one of color, light, form, medium and message. Some artists readily assume this mantle, while others struggle with these responsibilities; the very inquiry becomes their dialogue with the greater culture. The artists in Too Shallow for Diving: the 21st Century is Treading Water have a history of working collaboratively with scientists, environmental advocates, and community groups. From the perspective of a curator, their range of media is impressive, but that is not why they were invited. With respect to their art practices, these artists consistently challenge themselves and their public; that is why I invited them to create new work for this exhibition.
This collective endeavor has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, The Buhl Foundation, the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and The Sprout Fund. In the midst of severe cuts to state and national arts funding, the artists have received honorariums to create new work and to provoke us. We have the opportunity to do the intellectual work and to allow ourselves the visceral response their work calls for. For those interested in measurements, consider how much public discourse these contemporary works engender as well as the more personal experience of the art's staying power.
CAN WE CREATE NEW CONTEXTS FOR ART?
In Landmark Education's community project program Self Expression and Leadership, participants engage one community of people to benefit another. I chose to engage a group of artists for whom I have deep respect and in whose caliber of work I am confident. The beneficiary community is the membership of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh (JCC). With nearly 18,000 members, the JCC serves diverse groups, ranging from infants to their great grandparents. The organization's commitment to well being is fully expressed in its physical fitness, educational, and cultural programming. I have seen the membership organize itself around regional as well as global issues, including the Darfur crisis in Sudan. Proposing this exhibition to the AJM creates an opportunity to engage an active and well-considered public, which has been a source of inspiration.
I invite you to engage in pivotal issues of water and environment, brought to life in artistic forms and in our workshops. Throughout the course of the exhibition, prominent environmental groups will host citizen action workshops at the JCC: Clean Water Action, Penn Environment and Penn Future. Green Drinks, a networking event for people working to make Pittsburgh greener in the areas of business, policy, new technologies and activism will be hosted by the AJM. Former professor Conrad "Dan" Volz, Jr., whose recent resignation from the University of Pittsburgh this April over his public health advocacy on water and natural gas drilling is still reverberating, will give a presentation. Too Shallow for Diving artists are designing a series of public workshops.
My role here has been no different than that of Shakespeare's fool. It's my intention to interrupt our society and culture’s status quo to ignite a conversation that will result in people taking action. On the scale of community, I intend for my work to reach further than one’s individual experience. Art experts will tell you that to fully understand contemporary art, one must first know its context. If indeed our access to experiencing contemporary art is through inquiring into its context, then re-shaping that context can give us the keys to the kingdom – where art and artists play an increasingly powerful role, not just in our community, but in all communities.
Exhibition support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation and the Buhl Foundation. Major funding for the American Jewish Museum is provided by the Allegheny Regional Asset Board, the Anna L. Caplan & Irene V. Caplan Fund of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, The Robert C. and Gene B. Dickman Fund, the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts, and individual support. Media sponsorship is provided by WDUQ 90.5 FM.
Fine Perlow Weis Gallery and Berger Gallery
Saturday, April 30 • 6-8 pm
A Painter’s Legacy is an expansive exhibit comprised of the rich and diverse work of individual artists taught and influenced by Samuel Rosenberg. A professor at Carnegie Mellon University (formerly Carnegie Institute of Technology) for 40 years and at the Young Men & Women’s Hebrew Association for 39 years, Rosenberg is credited with directly influencing four successive generations of artists. The exhibit underscores his students’ artistic achievements that, combined, span more than half a century and reflect the major art movements of the latter half of the 20th century.
The artists included in A Painter’s Legacy represent a wide spectrum of media in- cluding painting, printmaking, drawing, watercolor, collage and sculpture. Many of his students have had prolific artistic careers and have exhibited extensively, creating an exceptional opportunity to contemplate the extent of Rosenberg’s influences and to analyze stylistic, methodological and conceptual connections among the work.
Funding for this project comes from an anonymous contribution and individual support.
Support for the American Jewish Museum is provided by the Allegheny Regional Asset District, the Anna L. Caplan & Irene V. Caplan Philanthropic Fund of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh Foundation and Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts. Media sponsorship is provided by WDUQ 90.5 FM.
Supporters/funders for A Painter's Legacy include: Jane C. Arkus, Jane Berkey and Dr. Sanford Golin, Pamela and Charles Berlin, Lois and Samuel Blaufeld, Rochelle and Irving Blumenfeld, Rosella Broff, Michelle Browne and Joel Persky, Dr. Owen Cantor, Eleanor and David Fax, Dr. Ellen Frank, Rebecca and Robert Frankel, Joan Friedberg, Nanette and Ira Gordon, Rita Gould, Jane Haskell, Fern and Charles Kalstone, Gloria and Fred Karn, David Kaufman, Eileen and Nick Lane, Marilyn and Earl Latterman, Norma Sue Madden, Lois and Dr. Milton Michaels, Bob and Ruth Westerman, Myers Dorothy and Philip Pearlstein, Florence Schneider, David Schulte, Myrna and Lee Silverman, Nancy and Richard Simon, Nellie Lou Slagle, Susheela Nemani and David Stanger, Marcia M. and Dr. Mervin Stewart, Susan and Robert Wolf
Opening Reception: Tuesday, October 19 l 7-9 pm l Levinson Hall
Keynote address with Tim Kaiser, Dir. Educational Resources & Wexner Center, USHMM
Behind the Scenes: Background and Development of Fighting the Fires of Hate l 7 pm
Admission is free, space is limited. RSVP at 412-421-1500
The AJM and the Holocaust Center of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh present an exhibition organized and circulated by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Fighting the Fires of Hate: America and the Nazi Book Burnings.
In 1933, German students supported by the Nazi party attempted to burn all works they deemed "Un-German." Targeted authors included Bertolt Brecht, Helen Keller, Ernest Hemingway, Sigmund Freud, and Karl Marx. As free expression was cosigned to the fire, the flames foreshadowed future Nazi atrocities. This breach of fundamental democratic values was enough to elicit a response from Americans, long before they entered World War II. Even during wartime, condemnation of book burnings was a rallying point against the Nazis. Nearly eighty years later, the Nazi book burning legacy continues as extremist groups ban and burn literature such as the Harry Potter series and Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five. Employing artifacts, newsreel footage, documents, video and other forms of multimedia, the exhibition explores the book burnings, America's immediate reaction, the burnings' role in the American war effort, and the contemporary discourse on censorship.
Docent-led tours can be arranged by contacting the Holocaust Center at 412-421-1500.
Click here for more information about the exhibition.
Books Are Weapons in the War of Ideas poster produced by the Office of War Information. This poster featuring a quote from President Roosevelt was one in a series. Credit: Courtesy U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Support for the American Jewish Museum is provided by the Allegheny Regional Asset District, the Anna L. Caplan & Irene V. Caplan Philanthropic Fund of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh Foundation, Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts, the regional arts funding partnership of the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts, and the Pennsylvania Humanities Council. Media sponsorship is provided by WDUQ 90.5 FM.
Society of Sculptors @ 75 Years
September 7-October 10, 2010
Fine Perlow Gallery Weis Gallery
Opening Reception: Sunday, September 12, 2010 l 1-3 pm
Sponsored by Bernard and Marsha Marcus
The AJM hosts the Pittsburgh Society of Sculptors' 75th anniversary exhibition curated by Joy Miller, exhibitions curator for the Las Cruces Museum of Art in Las Cruces, N.M. The exhibit features diverse and complelling work of 14 of the region's most notable sculptors, and follows on the heels of the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh's 100th year anniversary exhibition.
I Thought I Could Fly is a traveling exhibition organized by the American Jewish Museum (AJM), showcasing work by acclaimed photographer Charlee Brodsky. I Thought I Could Fly pairs Brodsky's photographs with personal narratives by individuals whose lives are affected in some way by mental illness. Brodsky's black and white photos portray metaphorical images based on the narratives to capture the essence of each experience. Throughout the exhibit, photos and text work together to destigmatize mental illness. An added dimension to the exhibition is a 13-minute documentary film produced exclusively for this project. The film includes personal interviews with five people whose narratives are included in the exhibit, bringing to life their individual stories, triumphs and trials surrounding mental health issues.
Inspired by her daughter's diagnosis of bipolar disorder and her desire to connect with people and their everyday experiences, Brodsky uses photographic imagery to bring audiences into the routines of people affected by mental illness. Brodsky is a documentary photographer, author and professor of photography at Carnegie Mellon University. Her book, Knowing Stephanie, was recognized as one of the American Association of University Presses' outstanding illustrated books of 2004. Street, Ms. Brodsky's book with poet Jim Daniels, won the 2007 Tillie Olsen Award given by the Working Class Studies Association. Ms. Brodsky's work is exhibited regionally and nationally.
April 2010 through February 2011
The exhibition is made possible through the Staunton Farm Foundation. The mission of the Foundation is to improve the lives of people who live with mental illness and/or substance use disorders. The Foundation works to enhance behavioral health treatment and support by advancing best practices through grant making to non-profit organizations in ten southwestern Pennsylvania counties. Additional support is provided by Western Psychiatry Institute & Clinic.
Images from I Thought I Could Fly: Portraits of Anguish, Compulsion and Despair reproduced with the generous permission of the Bellevue Literary Press.
The AJM is supported in part by grants from the Allegheny Regional Asset District, BNY Mellon Audience Development Fund and the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts. Media sponsorship is provided by WDUQ-FM.
Fine, Perlow, and Weis Gallery, Kaufmann Building • 5738 Forbes Avenue • Postcard
To Speak Her Heart is an exhibition of prints, mixed media and lithographs, and culminates 10 years of research conducted by the artists on the development and use of Jewish women's devotional prayers. The exhibition reveals rare existing examples of women's prayers and poems that provide a glimpse into the history of women's lives. A hands-on activities guide supplements the exhibition.
This program has been supported in part by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, the Federal-State Partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Major funding for the American Jewish Museum is provided by the Anna L. Caplan & Irene V. Caplan Philanthropic Fund administered by the United Jewish Federation Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Allegheny Regional Asset District and Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts, the regional arts funding partnership of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Media sponsorship is provided by WDUQ 90.5 FM.
Berger Gallery, Robinson Building • 5738 Darlington Road • Postcard
Between Heaven and Earth showcases examples of illustrations from Ilene Winn Lederer's newly released publication, Between Heaven and Earth: An Illuminated Torah Commentary. Lederer interprets each of the Torah's 54 parashiyot in a vibrant and unique style. The exhibit includes a selection of illustrations as well as excerpts, in Hebrew and English, from their respective Torah portions. This will be the first time illustrations from this publication are displayed as an exhibit.
Ilene Winn Lederer was raised in Chicago and lives in Pittsburgh. She attended the Art Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. A teacher of illustration and design, Lederer has taught at Carnegie Mellon University and the Ivy School of Professional Art. Her work is included in private and public collections throughout the United States and Europe. The Twelve Tribes of Israel, a series of banners created by Lederer, is displayed in the JCC Aquatics Center in the Kaufmann Building.
Support for the American Jewish Museum is provided by the Allegheny Regional Asset District, the Anna L. Caplan & Irene V. Caplan Philanthropic Fund of the United Jewish Federation Foundation, Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts, the regional arts funding partnership of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency and the Pennsylvania Humanities Council. Media sponsorship is provided by WDUQ 90.5 FM.
Sunday, January 31 • 1-3 pm
The reception includes a poetry reading by Zilka Joseph, Odissi performance by Sreyashi Dey and artist talk by Charlee Brodsky.
Photographer Charlee Brodsky initiates collaborations with writers so that her pictures and their text share equal ground.
Typifying Bordsky's customary collaborative style, India: A Light Within is an exhibit of Brodsky's photographs with creative nonfiction and poetry by poet Zilka Joseph and writer Neema Bipin Avashia. The exhibit is divided into four thematic sections: Kolkata street scenes; photographs of Sreyashi Dey's hands; a photographic triptych; and digital time-based pieces.
Dey, founder of SPARSH Foundation and Odissi dancer, invited Brodsky to India in 2007 to make photographs for the foundation she created. SPARSH funds heart operations for Indian children and behavioral health care for women. Influenced by the experience, Brodsky created a body of work from the photographs she took. She invited writers Avashia and Joseph to collaborate with her to create works conveying a multi-layered experience of India. For the past year, the creative team has been combining photographic imagery, creative nonfiction and poetry to express the depth and complexity of Indian life.
The exhibition is made possible by The Pittsburgh Foundation.
Tempted, Misled, Slaughtered.
The Short Life of Hitler Youth Paul B.
November 2-December 31, 2009
Exhibit on display in the Fine Perlow Weis Gallery
Monday, November 2, 2009, 7 pm
Levinson Hall, JCC Kaufmann Building
Guest Speaker: William Meinecke, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Presented in collaboration with The Holocaust Center of the United Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh and The American Jewish Museum of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, and is part of Light/The Holocaust & Humanity Project.
This exhibit narrates the story of the nazification of the youth of Germany focusing on the life and death of Paul Bayer. It shows how the Nazi state, through its control of the education system and through a propaganda effort, seduced the youth of Germany into active participation in its destructive mission.
Click Photographs to Enlarge
This exhibit supported by: The Holocaust Center of the United Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh Exhibition Endowment Fund
American Jewish Museum of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania Humanities Council, the Federal-State partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities
Body of Work: Philip Mendlow
October 12-December 18, 2009
Exhibit on display in the Berger Gallery
Click here to watch Body of Work: Philip Mendlow opening exhibit
The first comprehensive look at his extensive career that spanned nearly five decades, Body of Work surveys
Pittsburgh artist and teacher Philip Mendlow. Drawn from his personal collection, the work in the exhibit represents
the breadth of Mendlow's creative output. Revealing the connections and differences in his two and three-dimensional
forms the exhibit comprises approximately 50 paintings, works on paper and sculptures.
Click Photographs to Enlarge
Beginning as a painter, his work throughout the 1950s and 60s depicts landscapes, nudes, self portraits, still-lifes, and interior scenes. Deeply influenced as a Carnegie Institute of Technology student by notable Abstract Expressionist painter and professor, Balcomb Greene, Mendlow's style hinted toward a strong affinity for abstraction, although his work remained representational. A deft painter, he captured ordinary, idiosyncratic moments and utilized vibrant colors and gestural brush strokes to evoke a sense of mood among his solitary figures.
Turning to three-dimensional work by the late 1960s, Mendlow spent the greater part of his career creating biomorphic, geometric and figural sculptures. Remembered primarily as a sculptor by colleagues, it is in his wood, clay and welded steel sculptures where he fully engaged his interest in abstract rhythms and where his personal vocabulary matured and intensified.
Working at area universities, art centers, high schools and the Allegheny County Jail, Mendlow's teaching career spanned decades. An educator through 2006, a year before his death, he cultivated and influenced numerous aspiring artists, most notably Keith Haring and Corliss Cavalieri.
About the artist: Philip Mendlow was born in Pittsburgh in 1933. After earning a B.F.A. from (then) Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1954, he served in Paris, France, in the United States Army during the Korean War. Upon his discharge, he stayed in Paris, studying printmaking at the venerable William Stanley Hayter's Atelier 17 and painting and art history at the University of Paris, Sorbonne. He traveled extensively throughout Europe, exploring the Loire Valley, Barcelona and the Balearic Islands. Returning to Pittsburgh in 1958 he established a career as an arts educator, teaching drawing and painting, and later becoming the academic dean of the Ivy School of Professional Art. After the school's 1980 closure he continued teaching art at La Roche College, Carlow University, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh as well as Pittsburgh's Creative and Performing Arts High School (CAPA).
Mendlow exhibited widely throughout the sixties and seventies throughout Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, and his sculptures are in numerous private and museum collections. Although in his later years he concentrated on teaching and caring for his wife, he continued his artistic pursuits, experimenting with new styles and developing new bodies of work. Mendlow was also involved with area arts organizations, including the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Society of Sculptors, and Western Pennsylvania Regional Scholastics, where he served in lay leadership capacities. He died in Pittsburgh, in November 2007.
Funding for this exhibit is provided by the Anna L. Caplan and Irene V. Caplan Philanthropic Fund of the United Jewish Federation Foundation. The AJM is supported in part by grants from the Allegheny Regional Asset District, and the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts, the regional arts funding partnership of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency. Media sponsorship is provided by WDUQ-FM
Nests launches the third of three exhibitions in a year-long series at the AJM entitled Love/Fences/Nests: Projects by Ally Reeves, Ben Schachter and Anna Divinsky.
AJM's Nests by Anna Divinsky on YouTube
Opening Reception and Artist Talk
Thursday, June 4, 7 pm
Reception sponsored by Ellie Baker Feldman
Sunday, April 26th 1 pm
"Reflections on Pittsburgh's Resettled Jews from the Former Soviet Union"
Presentation by Harriet N. Kruman, author of The Huddled Masses: Jewish History in the Former Soviet Union: First-hand Interviews with the Émigrés
For her residency, Anna Divinsky uses hand painted and textured fiber to construct a larger-than-life bird nest that she will install in the AJM. Throughout the residency she will add to the nest installation, making it change and grow.
Divinsky utilizes nest imagery as a metaphor to examine the impact immigration plays on people's lives and its influence on one's perception of the past and present. She collaborates with people of different age groups from diverse communities, exploring memories of leaving home and building a new life.
While leading a number of workshops and collaborations, each geared toward exploration of old rituals and new customs, the artist will direct students to express their personal experiences, or understanding of migration through art making and story telling. Each group utilizes images of nests and birds as recurring visual vocabulary conveyed in innovative ways. A significant part of the exhibit will be the artist's collaboration with her mother as they embark on a journey of recollecting familiar traditions and art practices.
Originally from Kiev, Ukraine, Anna Divinsky immigrated to Pittsburgh with her family in 1993. Divinsky is currently a member of the adjunct faculty in the University of Pittsburgh's Studio Arts Department and Penn State's School of Visual Arts. Ms. Divinsky received a Master of Fine Arts in Printmaking from Penn State University, and a Bachelor of Art in Studio Arts and Art History from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a member of Group A., Associated Artists of Pittsburgh and the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh.
The Jewish Chronicle
image credit: Anna Divinsky, Nests (detail), watercolor on silk, 2009
Nests is curated by Leslie Golomb. Funding for this exhibit is provided by The Heinz Endowments' Small Arts Initiative, Dr. and Mrs. Sidney Busis, the Anna L. Caplan and Irene V. Caplan Philanthropic Fund of the United Jewish Federation Foundation, and an anonymous donor. The AJM is supported in part by grants from the Allegheny Regional Asset District, and the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts, the regional arts funding partnership of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency. Media sponsorship is provided by WDUQ-FM.
Project by Ben Schachter
January 2 - August 31
Tuesday, March 3, 7 pm
Lecture by Ben Schachter: Jewish Law and Jewish Art
Reception sponsored by Miriam and Jim Leib
Rabbi Yisroel Miller of Congregation Poale Zedeck
Sunday, March 22nd 1 pm
Rabbi Miller leads a discussion surrounding the history, development and significance of eruvim.
Fences launches the second of three exhibitions in a year-long series at the AJM entitled Love/Fences/Nests:
Projects by Ally Reeves, Ben Schachter and Anna Divinsky.
For his residency, Schachter explores the concept of eruv, a Hebrew term meaning "to mix or join together." The function of an eruv is to protect Orthodox Jews from transgressing prohibitions against carrying on the Sabbath, which is considered a form of work. An eruv also creates a particular community by conjoining private and public properties into one larger domain, extending the boundary of private space into public space. Using the concept of eruv as a launching point to consider the intermingling of public and private, Schachter invites visitors to explore how community defines their lives and how their experiences are shaped by the community they live in. Together, they experiment with ideas of sacred space in urban areas through various art making exercises.
Schachter is coordinating the fabrication of a large communal eruv that evolves from participants using tape on the museum floor to mark their navigation and daily routes. This encourages people to experience their physical movements through space and to reflect on the proximity of their movements to others. He is also leading a series of workshops culminating in a community eruv installed in the museum. The themes of the workshops are influenced by surveys visitors submit that answer questions prepared by Schachter about definitions and meanings of home, community and neighborhood.
Ben Schachter is currently Chair and Professor of Fine Arts at Saint Vincent College. He received a master of fine arts from Pratt Institute, a master of science in art history and criticism, and bachelor of art from Wesleyan University. He has published numerous scholarly articles on the subject of post-modern sculpture and lectures regularly on contemporary art.
Love/Fences/Nests is curated by Leslie Golomb and is supported in part by a grant from The Heinz Endowments' Small Arts Initiative and the Anna L. Caplan and Irene V. Caplan Philanthropic Fund of the United Jewish Federation Foundation. The AJM is supported in part by grants from the Allegheny Regional Asset District, and the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts, the regional arts funding partnership of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency. . Media sponsorship is provided by WDUQ-FM.
Eruv: Its History and Development
by Rabbi Yisroel Miller of Congregation Poale Zedeck
1 pm, March 22, 2009
Corresponding with Fences, AJM's current exhibition, Rabbi Miller will discuss the meaning, history, and above all, the spirit symbolized by the eruv as well as that spirit's significance for both Jews and non-Jews. Fittingly, when Rabbi Miller took the pulpit almost 24 years ago, his first public talk was at the dinner inaugurating the Squirrel Hill Eruv.
In addition to being the Rabbi of Congregation Poale Zedeck in Squirrel Hill, Rabbi Miller is a member of the executive committee of the Vaad, the Rabbinical Council of Greater Pittsburgh, and is the author of four books of essays on Jewish thought.
By Ally Reeves
January 5 - August 31, 2009
Exhibit on display in the Alex & Leona Robinson Building
Falling In launches the AJM's new season, Love/Fences/Nests: Projects by Ally Reeves, Ben Schachter and Anna Divinsky. The artists will each participate consecutively in a three-month residency presenting multi-media installations that result from collaborations with community members. They will set up studios in the AJM gallery and complete their installations while working in the museum, which will be open to the public.
The informal, experimental ambience of Love/Fences/Nests will intrigue audiences as the artists unsettle notions of how art is customarily displayed in museum spaces, while stretching the boundaries of traditional art. Although each project will be on view independently, the concepts of feeling at home in public and the intersection of public versus private spheres in everyday lives, weave the exhibits together.
Ally Reeves, "Falling In"
Reeves' Falling In is a synergistic happening between her and members of the community. During the first phase of the exhibition, participants share with her their stories about falling in love. Reeves then transforms the narratives into illustrations and a Flash animation, seen here, as the basis for the exhibition. Interpreting participants' personal stories, Reeves explores how cartoons and animation use both representational and abstract visual language and messages to narrate the human condition. Falling In is a synthesis of low-tech social engagement, new media techniques, performance and installation.Reeves' Falling In is a synergistic happening between her and members of the community. During the first phase of the exhibition, participants will share with her their stories about falling in love. Reeves will then transform the narratives into illustrations and Flash animations as the basis for the exhibition. Interpreting participants' personal stories, Reeves will explore how cartoons and animation use both representational and abstract visual language and messages to narrate the human condition. Falling In is a synthesis of low-tech social engagement, new media techniques, performance and installation.
Like Falling In, many of Reeves' projects explore the dissolution of boundaries between art and life. Bringing art to people in an outdoor setting, she bicycled through Pittsburgh's parks with the Look-See Tree, a human-powered mini-theater she constructed and attached to a bicycle that was part of the Robot 250 program offered in conjunction with Pittsburgh's 250th anniversary. Combining art with social action, she helped organize The One Mile Meal and The One Mile Garden, projects in collaboration with inner-city and rural communities exploring their relationship with — and understanding of — their local agricultural resources including food production, distribution and sustainability.
Reeves is a recent graduate of the MFA program at Carnegie Mellon University, a CMU fellow at the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry and the founder of the Mobile Museum, a project funded by a Seed Award from the Sprout Fund.
Love/Fences/Nests is curated by Leslie Golomb. Funding for Falling In is provided by The Heinz Endowments' Small Arts Initiative and the Anna L. Caplan and Irene V. Caplan Philanthropic Fund of the United Jewish Federation Foundation. The AJM is supported in part by grants from the Allegheny Regional Asset District, and the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts, the regional arts funding partnership of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency. Media sponsorship is provided by WDUQ-FM.
"A Window to My World" (A project of the Galilead Initiative)
July 27 - October 31, 2008
Sunday July 27, 7pm - 9pm
A photography exhibit of life in the north of Israel representing the work of 70 Israeli Arab & Jewish photographers.
The GaliLead Initiative is a partnership of United Jewish Communities,
United Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.
Exhibit Curator: Effy Umiel-fadida
"A Window to My World" is sponsored by The Fine Foundation, in collaboration with the American Jewish Museum of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh.
Resonance, Disintegration, Transport and Reintegration
April 28 - August 1, 2008
Paintings and prints by Pittsburgh artist Juliana Morris
Hebrew letterforms provide the inspiration for Resonance, large, Lambda metallic C-prints in mandela-like formations. Disintegration, Transport and Reintegration, acrylic paintings on canvas incorporating Hebrew letters and inspired by a lengthy study of Kabbalah, will be exhibited in the Fine/Perlow Weis Gallery. As a contemporary visual artist, Morris explores the intensity of the mandala in conjunction with the calligraphic qualities of Hebrew letterforms seeking to focus the attention of viewers and establish a meditative experience.
Funding for this exhibit is provided by the Anna L. Caplan and Irene V. Caplan Philanthropic Fund of the United Jewish Federation Foundation. The AJM is supported in part by grants from the Allegheny Regional Asset District, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Media sponsorship is provided by WDUQ-FM.
Making Hope Happen
February 18 - May 16, 2008
Exhibit on display in the Berger Gallery
When introduced into a social environment, visual art can produce effects greater than or equal to other forms of social communication. Left alone, cherished visual artifacts are no different than any other object. Works of art can have poignant and lasting social impact, but generate their meaning only when viewers start communicating with and about them.
The exhibition Making Hope Happen uses the communicative potential of art to transmit a diversity of life issues faced by people throughout the Pittsburgh community. Eight regional artists were chosen for this cooperative project of the American Jewish Museum (AJM) and Jewish Family & Children's Service (JF&CS). The artists include Leslie Ansley, Matt Forrest, Leslie A. Golomb, Adam Grossi, Wendy Osher, Philip Rostek, David Stanger, and Dror Yaron. The artists have created works that interpret stories of individuals served by the JF&CS and the pieces range from site-specific wall drawings and kinetic fabric sculptures to paintings, prints, and photographs.
Funding for Making Hope Happen is provided by grants from the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, Reed Smith LLP, Anna L. Caplan and Irene V. Caplan Endowment Fund of the United Jewish Federation Foundation, The Fine Foundation, Staunton Farm Foundation and Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic.
Body Maps - The Bambanani Women of Capetown, South Africa
February 11 - April 18, 2008
Exhibit on display at both the AJM and the offices of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation
Body Maps are artworks created by a group of women, The Bambanani Womens Group, based in Cape Town, South Africa. The Bambanani Women were invited to tell their stories through a community outreach program initiated by the AIDS and Society Research Unit of the University of Cape Town (ASRU) and M?Šdecins Sans Fronti?¨res. This program began to document the lives of this group of HIV+ women who were given access to drug therapies. With the help of Cape Town-based artist, Jane Soloman, the participants created Body Maps- life size images tracing the contours of their bodies that visualize the virus and articulate each individual history.
Drawn on life-sized panels of butcher paper, "body maps" are made by tracing two bodies: one of the artist and one of a partner. The artist then goes about filling in the traced bodies with images, words, patterns, designs and scars. A type of art therapy, the maps are used in conjunction with group therapy, photography and writing in order to help each woman deal with her HIV-positive status.
Body Maps clearly pull viewers into a direct dialogue with South Africa's epidemic AIDS problem. One is asked to identify with individual women on a highly personal, emotive basis. Ultimately, the images of hope and beauty are used as qualitative research tools as well as instruments for narrative therapy and treatment literacy programs. For the AJM, this exhibit is an extension of its mission and ongoing collaboration with the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, by using art to engage crucial universal issues. Art is therapeutic and necessary in our lives, and this exhibit really does exemplify that concept.
Funding for this exhibit is provided by the Anna L. Caplan and Irene V. Caplan Philanthropic Fund of the United Jewish Federation Foundation and the A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Falk Foundation. The AJM is supported in part by grants from the Allegheny Regional Asset District, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Media sponsorship is provided by WDUQ-FM.
Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals 1933 - 1945
November 18, 2007 - January 12, 2008
From 1933 to 1945, Nazi leaders waged a ruthless campaign against people deemed "enemies of the state." Hitler's regime, driven by a racist ideology, carried out the mass destruction of six million Jews in the Holocaust and implemented a murderous program of "race hygiene" to cleanse German society of "foreign-blooded" Roma (Gypsies), carriers of hereditary diseases, and "aberrant" social behaviors, including homosexuality. The Nazis did not seek to exterminate all German homosexuals but endeavored to change their "erroneous" sexual behavior through forced "re-education" or, failing that, isolate their "contagion" from society.
View the online exhibition developed by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Of the Painted Image
Miriam Cabessa, Seth Cohen, Peter Rostovsky
August 10 - November 2, 2007
Of the Painted Image was developed with the hope that through the encounter with the exceptional work of leading contemporary painters, viewers can develop a greater and more expansive understanding of what it is to be a contemporary Jewish artist and what we envision when we say Jewish art. This inaugural exhibition included paintings by New York City based artists Miriam Cabessa, Seth Cohen and Peter Rostovsky.
Seasons | The Fabric Art of Tina Rieger
June 4 • June 29, 2007
Exhibit on displays at the Fine, Perlow, and Weis Gallery
This memorial exhibition will display over 20 works by fabric artist Tina Rieger, including two chuppahs (wedding canopies) made for her children's wedding, a technicolored Joseph's coat and many other beautiful fabric pieces that celebrate a diversity of Jewish themes.
The Forgotten Photographs: The Work of Paul Goldman 1943-1961
March 12 - May 31, 2007
The Forgotten Photographs: The Work of Paul Goldman from 1943-1961, from the collection of Spencer M. Partrich, displays over 100 historic images documenting Eretz-Israel during the final years of the British Mandate and Israel's struggle for survival during its first thirteen years. Goldman's privileged access, first as a British Army member and later as a journalist befriended by Israeli leaders, offers a front row perspective of personal moments at a time of sweeping, historic change.
If My Eyes Speak | Photographs by Adam Nadel
December 18 - February 23, 2007
The exhibition included 30 photographs and accompanying text interviews which provided viewers with poignant portraits of individuals that have been affected by or have perpetrated acts of genocide, specifically engaging the experiences and histories of Bosnia, Darfur, and Rwanda.
Please stay connected with local efforts by visiting the Pittsburgh Darfur Emergency Coalition's web site.
Body: In Diaspora | New Work by Maritza Mosquera
September 7 - December 1, 2006
Body: In Diaspora was a community art project that brought together Somali and Jewish refugees for dialogue on their emigration experiences and their process of assimilation in a new society. The archives of their conversations along with biographies of the participants through video and prints are components for this new installation work by artist Maritza Mosquera. The American Jewish Museum supported this project and exhibition.
118-60 Metropolitan Avenue | Paintings by Joan Linder
April 24 - July 15, 2006
The exhibition included over 20 exceptional paintings by acclaimed New York artist Joan Linder, providing viewers with touching depictions of the events and memories held within the walls of her grandparent's apartment at 118-60 Metropolitan Avenue in Queens, New York. 118-60 Metropolitan Avenue | Paintings by Joan Linder was presented in its entirety for the first time at the American Jewish Museum and we are proud to have mounted such a comprehensive exhibition of this important work.