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Magic, Mourners & Healers: Jewish Women in the Shtetls and Contemporary Art

Jan 20 | Thu |
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For the work in the Museum’s current exhibition, Every Protection, artist Debra Olin was inspired by questions about motherhood posed more than a century ago by Russian ethnographer S. An-sky. What was An-sky’s motivation in asking these questions? How did he elicit stories and folk beliefs from the Jewish women of the Pale of Settlement? And how does this fascinating backstory inform Olin’s art? Find out when Nathaniel Deutsch, Director of The Humanities Institute and the Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Santa Cruz, joins us virtually for a talk about the women of Eastern European shtetls in the Pale and how their stories, beliefs and superstitions are evoked in Olin’s art.

Deutsch translated and explored An-sky’s questions, and in this talk, he will dive into the stories An-sky uncovered from female prayer leaders, healers, exorcists, expectant mothers and professional mourners. As he examines Olin’s evocative collages, he’ll consider how these stories and traditions are embodied and sustained in her artwork. Join us for a fascinating look at these century-old questions and stories that continue to spark imaginations, illuminating the inner lives of long-ago Jewish women and their connections to the present day.

Venue: Museum at Eldridge Street

12 Eldridge Street Map