About the exhibition:
Lately, along with the rise of the #MeToo movement, there have been several news items about the disadvantages of being a woman in Orthodox Judaism. In this branch of Judaism, particularly within Ultra-Orthodoxy, women are often told by the patriarchy how to dress, act, and be. Women are told that they are “separate but equal,” and are admonished for damaging the integrity of their community if they do not follow strict rules of modesty. This proposed art exhibition deals with the systematic bias that has created the invisible women of Orthodox Judaism.
Hevria, an open-minded and creative Jewish blog, recently published an article titled “The Invisible Jew.” Written by Merri Ukraincik, the article details her despair at finding that her friend, honored by a gala along with her husband, was left off the invitation. Only her husband’s photograph was shown. As Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt writes for the Forward, “female presence seems to be disappearing from the Orthodox public space.” Orthodox Instagram personality Adina Miles tried to fight this epidemic with humor, publishing an advertisement with her face covered with an emoji. Published successfully, she faced major backlash from her community, receiving personal insults and threats against her children. Unfortunately, many ultra-Orthodox publications tend to systematically exclude not only Jewish women: Ultra-Orthodox newspaper Yated Ne’eman refused to publish a picture of Hillary Clinton when discussing her political campaign. They opted to replace her image with one of her husband.
This bias is tolerated and put up with by most women in their communities. “This is just the way it is,” is what is told to children. Not “let’s make a change,” not “let’s do better.” Only “what can you do?” and a shrug. This exhibition aims to raise awareness and question this issue through art. Similar to the #MeToo movement, it is our hope that sunlight will be the best disinfectant. We hope that as the issue gains publicity, there will be a greater sense of collective responsibility to proactively change the Orthodox community’s inborn mechanisms. Additionally, artists expressing their insight on this subject will create a powerful, persuasive show, that will help bring female imagery to the front lines of Orthodox Judaism. Exhibited art works will primarily be by women with a relationship to this matter, addressing what it feels like to be an “Invisible Jew”, and to question how we can do better for the next generation of Jewish women.
Besides the artists mentioned in the photo galleries, other artists will be Helene Aylon, Yona Verwer and Goldie Gross.
Venue: Detour Gallery, Red Bank, NJ
Exhibition dates: June 21 – July 12, 2018
Opening Reception June 21, 6-8 pm
Curator: Goldie Gross is a Brooklyn-based artist and co-producer of the Jewish Art Salon’s upcoming exhibition “Jerusalem Between Heaven And Earth” at the Jerusalem Biennale 2017, curated by Ori Z. Soltes. For the Jewish Art Salon she is curating The Invisible Jew, and Natural Instincts. She also curated Sukkahwood at Inwood Park, NYC. She co-curated Art & Identity at Tzohar Seminary for Chassidus and the Arts.
Yona Verwer, artist and founder / director of the Jewish Art Salon.
Faigie Roth, art historian.
The Invisible Jew is co-sponsored by JOFA, the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, Art Kibbutz, and Hevria.