Jewish Painters

With the Enlightenment, Jewish painters experienced unprecedented opportunity.

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Later in her career, Chicago began to become interested and started exploring her Jewish ancestry and identity. Out of that exploration came the "Holocaust Project: From Darkness to Light," which was unveiled at the Spertus Institute in Chicago in 1993. Her multi-media exploration of Holocaust themes integrated her feminist perspective in examining human brutality and the triumph of the human spirit. Chicago pushes the edges of what it means to be a contemporary painter; for instance, "The Holocaust Project" uses photography along with painting to explore the depth and complexity of what it means to look at pictures from such a tragic moment in human history.

Later in her career, Chicago explored her Jewish ancestry and identity. Out of that exploration came the "Holocaust Project: From Darkness to Light," unveiled at the Spertus Institute in Chicago in 1993. Her multi-media exploration of Holocaust themes integrated her feminist perspective in examining human brutality and the triumph of the human spirit.

As has been the trend over the last two centuries, not all Jewish painters today explore their Jewish identity or include Jewish content in their work. And those who do express a range of visions about the Jewish world, expressed through a range of different medium.

Self-taught artist Malcah Zeldis, for example, is best known as a children's book illustrator whose work is heavily influenced by folk art. Her paintings portray a sweetness and love of Jewish ritual life, of family and tradition. Her paintings are part of the permanent collection in the Museum of American Folk Art, establishing a place for Jewish culture--a Jewish voice--in the American folk art tapestry.

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Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer is a freelance writer and educator based in Philadelphia. She is the author of two books of plays for children: The Magic Tanach and Other Short Plays and Extraordinary Jews: Staging Their Lives as well as The Creative Jewish Wedding Book.