The Peninsula Jewish Community Center and the Jewish Art Salon present:
On The Consequences of Hate Speech III, an exhibition curated by Robin Atlas and Nancy Current.
September 11, 2019:
6:30 pm Opening reception and gallery tour.
7:30 pm Panel discussion. Info here.
Exhibition Dates: September 11 to November 24, 2019.
Monday – Thursday 9 – 9, Friday 9 – 6, Sunday 9 – 9.
PJCC, 800 Foster City Blvd, Foster City, CA 94404
Words have always been a catalyst for civil discord and today hate speech is increasingly prevalent, tearing apart the fabric of our communities in ever more violent and destructive ways. Examples of hate speech are everywhere, in our personal and work lives and in the public sphere, passing from generation to generation by written and spoken word, inculcating attitudes of intolerance, anti-Semitism, racism and discrimination.
The artwork for this exhibition was chosen to fulfill two main requirements: to be both visually arresting and conceptually compelling while relating to the subject of hate speech. The works express a wide range of opinion and expression.
The viewer will be drawn in to each artist’s visual statement about an aspect of hate speech: its definition and consequences, its victims and perpetrators, its history and ubiquity, and the responses of loving-kindness, education and seeking a spiritual power to cope.
“This power of speech in man does not only come from the physical organs of speech (but rather, it comes from the soul too)…Therefore, the essence of man is a living being that speaks (for his power of speech combines his physical and soul aspects)…Therefore, someone who speaks lashon hara…sins with his speech, which is his essence. (On the other hand, if he speaks properly, he perfects his essence).”- Maharal, Chidushei Agadot, Arachin 15a. s.v. v’nimtzahLiterally translated, Lashon Hara means “evil tongue” and is the halachic term for derogatory speech about another person.The prohibitions of Lashon Hara are among the most fundamental and oft-overlooked tenets of Halachic law. Eminent rabbinical scholars have discussed, written and codified what is and what is not proper speech.This body of work explores the progeny of the seeds of Lashon Hara and their impact on the spiritual realm and the physical universe. While this narrative is steeped in Jewish teachings, it extols a simple, universal concept: We should not speak ill of one another except to advance a constructive purpose, and then only within the embrace of a compassionate humanity. These pieces combine hand dyed, printed and collaged fabric, hand embroidery, free-hand machine stitching, paper, ink, paint, beads, cotton remnants and trim pieces.
A Golem is an artificial strong force or homunculus which was created to protect its community and occurs in Jewish (folk)stories. This golem is my artistic reaction to the riots in Charlottesville. Racists, anti-semites, the KKK, white suprematists and others promoted abject ideas that split unity and harmony in this world. They marched the streets with their flags and chants and -chutzpah!- initially were given only half of the blame for the riots. We need to stand up, unite, and be a Golem against this kind of bigotry. “Liberté” (Freedom) is my reaction after hearing about the vile attack by Islamist terrorists on the office of the French satirical magazine Hebdo which left several people dead.
We are beings of great complexity in which both good and evil co-exist. Pulled in both directions, we have free will to decide which inclination to choose. The question is, how free is our will? Many factors, both internal and external, can make it difficult to determine the right thing to say or do. My series, L’Dor Vador: from Generation to Generation, addresses this issue. Images of ancient manuscripts allude to the writings of Jewish sages that are an important source of information and guidance about lashon hara. We have an obligation to ourselves and others to “guard our tongues from evil and our lips from speaking deceit”(Psalm 34:14). In addition to preparing ourselves to understand and take action against evil speech, we are obligated to educate our children so they can avoid being the perpetrators or victims of cruelty. My work reminds viewers that what children say is important and it is never too soon to learn about evil speech and its consequences.
I consider myself an African-American Feminist and environmental artist. My approach to producing art is environmentally and politically infused: neither waste humanity nor the gifts of nature. I am primarily a mixed media sculptor who uses discarded materials. My art draws upon relics from the African Diaspora. The discarded materials represent how people of African descent were used during the institution of slavery and colonialism then discarded, but who found ways to repurpose themselves and thrive in a hostile world. I seek to use recovered materials, reconfiguring and incorporating them into pieces of art where possible and appropriate, and to mitigate waste and pollution in all my work. This is a creative challenge, but a commitment I incorporate into my professional and personal activities.
The slippage between cause and consequence begins with language , its corruption. Its failure or its efficacy. This text of a passage from Tom Stoppards” “Rosencrantz and Guilderstern are Dead” addresses the failure to realize the consequential moment when a difference might be made. The layers of “no” have been struck with the hammer of typewriter c1940, which elicits an energy of action not available in the silent type of a computer-they are then enlarged by scan as red lines get mingled with black type a chorus of refusal seeks an alertness in a real consequential time.
In Judaism there is a saying when a person dies, “May his/her memory be a blessing.” Hate speech often leads to hate crimes. In 1969 my father was murdered. It was a story of race and loss, mine and my family’s, that continues to shape me and my art to this day. I wrote the poem to remember my father, to say the things I didn’t get to say to him before he died, and to heal. I want him to know I will never forget him and that I love him.
My art serves as a bridge from the world of today to the Holocaust and war of my memories. I wish to speak the uncomfortable truth of refugees who are trapped in a cycle of struggle and the promise of safe refuge abroad. Sadly, only further hardship awaits the hundreds of thousands of people who have no choice but to leave their place of birth and cross perilous waters in substandard conditions. My “Migrants” series depicts visions of the dangerous journey made in boats and rafts crowded with passengers.
Katarzyna Kozera and Yona Verwer
In this collaborative work the Urim and Tumim are presented as the antidote to hate speech: a direct connection with a higher source. The Urim and Tumim were part of a biblical tool of prophecy known as “The Breastplate of Judgment.” In Biblical times, during war and national crisis, this breastplate was worn and consulted by the Jewish High Priest. Upon meditation, individual letters would sparkle to display prophetic messages: text messages from above! These talismanic devices guide us to a more elevated way of living / speaking.
“Pavel’s Butterfly”. Pavel Freidman’s poem, “The Butterfly” written in Terezin June 1942. The Holocaust was the result of thought which gave birth to words of madness and frenzy and genocide.
“No Place To Glean” is a biblical reference. Hate speech causes divides in nations. Shelterless refugees wander in search of food and friendlier borders. Women, unprotected, fall prey to famine and rape.
Hate speech will leave its mark; will leave us torn, scratched, bruised. Love speech will help us mend, put the pieces together again.But the scar will always show. Repair gives us strength, resilience, new shapes of beauty envelop the break, as the scar becomes an integral part of our whole being. Each of the brooches and rings I created is a complete object, despite its visible breaks. The breaks are the ornamental decorations, which give each piece its unique individual character.
Nazanin Hedayat Munroe
“Collective Unconscious” series: We so often ignore the subtle forms of oppression that we live with each day. The women depicted, and the characters after whom they are named, all suffer from the constraints that the men in their lives put upon them. Whether denying them access to a lover, the freedom to travel, or suffocating their thoughts with negative speech, these women are forced to live with someone else’s idea of who they should be. Juxtaposed beneath their placid smiles, the passionate words of a rare female poet reflect that feelings and love cannot be constrained.
This piece is taken from a body of work which I have been making for several years. The concept began as a series of paintings of 20thCentury Martyrs, but it very quickly evolved into a series of holocaust paintings and works on and of paper. This happened primarily because of my family’s history relating to The Holocaust. Both my mother’s and father’s family were deeply affected by the holocaust even though both of my parents were born in the US. My Father was from an Eastern European Jewish family and my mother was from a German Jewish Family, so I am the product of, what was then considered, a mixed marriage. Both families maintained close relationships with their European relatives and both families lost nearly all those relatives in the Shoa.
Hitler used words to propagate negative feelings and false beliefs about Jews. The Holocaust began with poisonous speech and led to outright hatred, abuse and systematic destruction. My paintings of the shoes scream of the many murdered in this spot. My paintings are a memorial to the Jews who were lined up at the river’s edge and shot, falling into the Danube, and to my own family members in Hungary who were brutally murdered by the Nazis.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “when hate flares up, good people rise up against it – often in greater numbers and with stronger voices.” A positive consequence of hate speech happens when a wave of inclusive grassroots neighbors and communities unite together to become the antithesis to those who speak hate. To eliminate hate speech, that often starts with name calling or a slur, start with one person’s effort or an idea. See his or her idea grow. Long, deep, roots of grass get entangled. Roots intertwine with each other, a metaphor for grassroot groups that bring change.
Miriam, a prophet and sister to Moses and Aaron, speaks ill to Moses about his Cushite wife. As punishment, God strikes Miriam with leprosy for seven days. The Rabbis see this as an extreme example of lashon hara (evil speech), a grave sin. Was Miriam rightly punished, or ultimately wronged?
When I drew Facebook Rage I was engulfed by the fury that kept, and is still keeping, the country in a state of outrage. As I used Facebook, I realized that the shared, augmented anger and arrogance I found there is a narcotic; it is addictive, and very unhealthy. It is up to us as individuals to use Facebook responsibly, as if it were a drug. This image explores the psyche of a person who has substituted reality with what he sees on his screen, and then acts out his rage in the real world.
Demagogues have ascended to power in communities, religions, and countries throughout history and around the world. No group of humans is immune (can’t speak for the animal kingdom).Thinking about the phenomenon and its ubiquity, the only common thread seems to be an abnormal craving for power. And – not to raise a loaded question, but – have we ever heard of a female demagogue? Is this actually a testosterone-fueled phenomenon? Will this pattern change as women are gradually allowed into positions of power?
This sculpture, hand-carved in a black walnut log, condemns the demagogue as “sees nothing, hears nothing, yells a lot, no brain”. (The “no brain” aspect of the sculpture occurred because the core of the log was rotten and full of termites.)