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Jewish Artists in Chicago and the Gift to Birobidzhan
Jewish Artists in Chicago and the Gift to BirobidzhanSunday, November 22, 2015 - 2:00 pm
$18 | $10 for Spertus members
$8 for students and Spertus alumni
Buy tickets online below or by phone at 312.322.1773.
In 1934, a Jewish autonomous region was established in Birobidzhan (sometimes spelled Biro-Bidjan), Siberia. This Jewish region, viewed by many as a Jewish homeland, was put in place as part of a Soviet policy that encouraged ethnic groups to contribute to the building of socialism by settling their own territory (or oblast). Yiddish was the territory’s official language. Although Birobidzhan is not widely known today, at the time, the idea was supported by many Jews around the world. (See sidebar.)
In 1937, twelve Chicago artists — including notable modernists Todros Geller, Mitchell Siporin, A. Raymond Katz, David Bekker, and Morris Topchevsky — contributed to a portfolio of 14 woodcuts designed to raise money for the Jewish settlement in Birobidzhan and to establish a museum there. Their contributions ranged from images of shtetl life to representations of Depression-driven poverty at home in Chicago.
Spertus Institute is fortunate to have a rare, complete copy of the folio in our collection. It will be on display September 13, 2015 though January 3, 2016.
Join Susan Weininger to explore how these images offer a window into Chicago’s Jewish artistic community and its commitment to political and social issues.
Susan Weininger is Professor Emerita of Art History at Roosevelt University. She has curated exhibits and written extensively on Chicago artists including Gertrude Abercrombie, Ivan Albright, Romolo Roberti, and Paul Kelpe, as well as modernist Chicago art in general. She serves on a number of boards including the New Deal Center of Roosevelt University and the North Shore Board of the National Council of Jewish Women.