Video: Feminist Voice in Jewish Art

Our featured artists are Billha Zussman and Rachel Kanter. Curator Dvora Liss will speak about the work of Helene Aylon. Together they will explore how feminist voices have influenced Jewish art and how those voices have resonated both within the art world at large and within their respective artistic communities and practices.

Curators: Dorit Jordan Dotan and Judith Jospeh.

Support by Advisor Yona Verwer and team members Cheselyn Amato and Chana Wiesenthal Elias.

About the presenters:

Billha Zussman

This Israeli-born artist studied graphic art at the Royal Academie of the Arts in Amsterdam where she currently resides. Her artworks consistently reference everyday life absurdities, observing the mechanism of human behavior. Billha uses visual images to present the viewer with “shots”of humor, self mockery and fantasy to enable the viewer to laugh at life’s realities. Billha is currently working on two graphic novels: “The Revenge of Van Gogh” and “The Last Cinderella Surgeries – Fantasy and Feminism”and works in the Education Dept. at the Jewish Museum in Amsterdam. Instagram: @billhazussman

Rachel Kanter

This fiber artist uses quilting and embroidery techniques while incorporating vintage textiles, sewing patterns, furniture and found objects into her work. Her interests lie in the combination of history and tradition with modern ideas about Judaism. Not only does she look to traditional Jewish rituals and texts to inform her work but is equally inspired by traditional women’s hand work and crafts. There is a deep connection between how she works with fabric, the methods she uses to sew, quilt and embroider and what her mother, grandmothers and great-grandmothers did. Instagram: @rachelkanterart

Helène Aylon, Presentation by Curator Dvora Liss.

Helène Aylon was an artist who addressed what she perceived as the three landscapes of feminism of the last three decades: biological, ecological, theological. Born, raised and schooled in the Orthodox tradition in Borough Park, Brooklyn, she married an Orthodox rabbi at age 18 and lived the life of a rabbi’s wife until his untimely death the week of her 30th birthday. In the last years of the marriage, Aylon studied art at Brooklyn College with Ad Reinhardt, who encouraged her greatly. The mural, “Ruach,” that Aylon painted at Kennedy airport became the bridge between Aylon’s former life and the start of a search for a deeper spiritual ethic in the Torah. In 1973, Aylon moved to California to teach art at San Francisco State University and stayed for a decade.

Helene Aylon’s art is in many private and public collections, including the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art in Peekskill, NY, The Jewish Museum in New York, and the San Francisco JCC. She died on April 6, 2020, from complications of the COVID-19 virus.

Dvora Liss is curator at the Museum of Art in Ein Harod. She also curated the Jewish Art Salon’s contribution to the 2015 Jerusalem Biennale “New York New Work” with co-curator David Sperber.