Artists on Antisemitism

9 Jun 2024 – 30 Aug 2024

Regular hours

12:00 – 18:00
12:00 – 18:00
12:00 – 18:00
12:00 – 18:00

Free admission

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81 Leonard Gallery and Jewish Art Salon present a survey of Jewish artists’ responses to the current global surge of antisemitism.


81 Leonard Gallery and Jewish Art Salon, with support from COJECO and the Natan Foundation, are proud to present Artists on Antisemitism, a survey of Jewish artists’ responses to the current global surge of antisemitism. Among artists of varying nationalities, familial histories, and levels of religiosity, a duality emerges between cautiously reflecting on traumatic narratives and driving forward with courage and optimism. The works on view form a spectrum between these two points of view, with many artists exploring the gray areas in the middle.


Remembrance is a Jewish value and tying thread across the exhibition, though the artists go about memorializing in various ways. While many artists look to the past as a warning sign, others venerate individuals whose embodiment of strength and Jewish pride may serve the community now. Mike Wirth’s Silent Remembrance honors Jewish artist Felix Nussbaum who perished during the Holocaust, portraying him on a smartphone screen like the ultimate contemporary icon. Marina Heintze’s Yitler, on the other hand, captures the sensation of history looming in the present and the urgency of remembering, fusing images of infamous antisemites Adolf Hitler and Kanye West. Susan May-Tell’s photographs taken at Auschwitz concentration camp are similarly haunting in their documentation of items left behind by victims of the Nazi regime.


The vibrancy of Jewish life is portrayed as well, however tinged with an air of caution. Dan Harris’ paper-cut collage My Friend in Crown Heights portrays an intimate moment of fatherly love nuanced by the tension between proudly wearing one’s faith and the knowledge that it might make oneself and one’s family a target. While the man in Harris’ work dons pepper spray hanging from his belt, other artists draw from spirituality and folklore to envision protective objects or methods. Maxwell Bauman’s Emergency Golem builds upon the 16th-century story in which Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel created a golem from clay to defend the Jewish ghetto from the pogroms. Bauman’s golem built from legos and encased in glass like a fire hydrant meets the fear that misfortune might again strike with humor and optimism that the Jewish people are prepared. Yona Verwer’s Star Amulet resembles both an oversized star of David necklace and an armor shield. Though loaded with the history of needing protection, the wearable work invites one to step into their own strength.


Featured artists: Maxwell Bauman, Isaac Ben-Aharon, Diane Britt, Goldie Gross, Dan Harris, Marina Heintze, Judith Joseph, Ronit Levin Delgado, Akiva Listman, Carol Oster, Mark Podwal, Leah Raab, Israel Rabinowitz, Joan Roth, Miri Sasson, Ruth Schreiber, Irina Sheynfeld, Ali Shrago-Spechler, Susan May Tell, Yona Verwer, Mike Wirth.


Curated by Hannah Rothbard, Nancy Pantirer, Yona Verwer, Ronit Levin Delgado, and Judith Joseph. On view Thursday-Sunday 12-6pm. 


This project is supported by the Natan Foundation and COJECO Arts Against Antisemitism Fellowship funded by the Mayor’s Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes (OPHC) and the Jewish Community Relations Council.


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