On Display Through February 26, 2018
Jews of Color: a Renaissance is the latest project by Scattered Among the Nations to educate about Jewish diversity, profiling some of the world’s most isolated and dynamic communities. The original touring exhibition with photographs by Bryan Schwartz and Jay Sand was presented in the PJCC Art Gallery in 2011 and has toured in cities across the country.
There are fewer than fourteen million Jews in the world today – most of them live in established Jewish centers like Israel and large cities in North America and Western Europe. What many do not know is that there are communities in Africa, Asia, and Latin America whose populations share the outward appearance and lifestyles of the people who surround them, with one major difference: they are practicing Jews – Jews of color. Some of these communities exist in places so geographically and culturally distant from other Jews that they must work daily to maintain the religion of their ancestors.
Jews of Color: a Renaissance features large canvasses by Oakland, California painter Sam Renaissance, paired with the source photographs that inspired them. From the Benei Menashe tribes in the hills of northeastern India, to the Shona Jews of Rusape, Zimbabwe, to the former Marranos of Venta Prieta, Mexico; from crowded corners of Bombay, to a farming village in Ghana, West Africa – each of these Jewish communities struggles to preserve Jewish practice apart from the mainstream Jewish community.
The photographic subjects are transformed through Mr. Renaissance’s urban modernist approach, making strong use of brilliant color, bold outlines, and compositions that vibrate with barely-contained energy. The added layer of interpretation reminds us that all art is seen and interpreted through the personal lens of each individual viewing the work. Consider how your own narrative, aesthetic, and imagination plays into your experience with both photograph and painting.
The Talmud says, “Hearing is not like seeing.” With this teaching in mind, “Jews of Color: a Renaissance” challenges stereotypes and introduces the faces and places that comprise a dynamic component of today’s multicultural Jewish world.
Scattered Among the Nations www.scatteredamongthenations.org