CALL FOR ART – Eshet Chayil

Jack H. Skirball Campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles (HUC-JIR,LA) has engaged artists in a multitude of ways, including turning the central floor prayer and education area, Mercaz, into a unified exhibition space. The works on display in the Mercaz are on view for one year. This timing allows the college to create exhibition signage, educational materials, and interactive elements supporting an integrated vision of arts and interdisciplinary learning as core values. 

HUC-JIR,LA will mount their next exhibition in December 2019. The theme of the exhibition is eshet hayil (Woman of Valor). Artists are invited to respond to this concept in multiple ways, see below for more details.

Exhibition Background: 

Eshet Hayil (“Woman of Valor”) is an alphabetic acrostic poem with 22 verses in praise of the ideal wife, based on Proverbs 31. It is most commonly heard chanted at the Shabbat table, where it is customary for a husband to offer it in praise of his spouse. Among the virtues that eshet hayil acclaims are modesty, charity, domestic achievements, and the excellent reputation she earns for her husband. While the spirit of this well-known text is admirable, especially for its time, it also reflects an understanding of gender that cries out for re-interpretation.  

We live in an era that has seen both great strides forward and tremendous setbacks for women and female-identified people. How, today, should we celebrate valorous women? Can we honor women’s wisdom, dignity, and strength without limiting ourselves to seeing women’s worth as coming only from home, marriage, and children? Could it be that the spouse who “trusts in her” might also happen to be a woman? Can we make space for women who do not have children that “rise to call them blessed,” either by choice or because of infertility and pregnancy loss? As we increasingly recognize that gender lies along a spectrum, how does that necessitate a re-reading of this highly binary text? This exhibition is about re-imagining and exploring the Jewish tradition’s connection with womanhood, in light of our changing times. 

Submission deadline: November 11, 2019

Exhibition Benefits: 

  • Works on view for a year at significant university in Los Angeles, CA 
  • Exhibition listing on-campus website and in college materials 
  • Reception or learning opportunity during the exhibition 
  • Works insured will on view 
  • The college will install and de-install works and covers costs of all exhibition design (prep walls, lighting, signage, and labels) 

Instruction for Artists: Jewish Artists, photographers, videographers, and performers are invited to submit their works. All work must be two dimensional. We will consider video stills and documentation images of performances. You may submit up to three artworks for consideration. Artists must be 18 or older. If selected, artists are responsible for getting the artwork to and from Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles, including shipping of work, delivery, and pickup of artwork. The exhibition is from December 2019 – December 2020. Your artwork must be delivered ready to hang and available for the duration of the show. By submitting artwork, you agree to these terms. 

Send JPEGs of your artwork, including dimensions (W x H – inches) with a short CV/biography, and a few sentences about how the work reflects the theme of eshet hayil. Note for video-art and performance send still images. All materials should be sent via e-mail. All submissions must be sent by Monday, November 11, 2019. 


Email submissions to:

Subject Line: HUC-JIR,LA 2019 – Eshet Hayil – Call for Artists Submission 

Anne Hromadka Greenwald

Curator, HUC-JIR/LA 

General History of Hebrew Union College-JIR/LA 

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) is the nation’s oldest institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and communal service professionals, and offers graduate and postgraduate degree programs to scholars of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR’s scholarly resources comprise a renowned library, archive, and museum collections, biblical archaeology excavations, and academic publications. HUC-JIR invites the community to an array of cultural and educational programs that illuminate Jewish identity, history, and contemporary creativity, and foster interfaith and multiethnic understanding. 

The Los Angeles campus of the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) sits on five acres of land adjacent to the University of Southern California. Established in 1954 to provide Reform movement leadership for the West Coast, the campus is located in the second largest Jewish community in America.