In 1994, the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership brought together six black artists and six Jewish artists to create new work for an ambitious art exhibition. The artists were given minimal constraints on what to produce, with only the guiding principle that the work should in some way connect to the exhibition’s overarching theme—the relationship between the black and Jewish communities in contemporary America.
Kartemquin Films was brought in to create a video about the artists and their works to accompany the exhibition. Kartemquin shot dozens of tapes documenting the artists as they worked and spoke openly about their experiences with racism and antisemitism, as well as their thoughts on how blacks and Jews are both similar and different from one another and how these two communities might be able to come together and support one another.
The Kartemquin crew also shot additional footage outside of the initial tapes with the artists used for the final video. These include: An interview with Morrie Fred of Spertus about his thoughts after the completion of the show, plus an interview with Ray Price of DuSable Museum of African American History about why they ultimately decided not to collaborate with Spertus; Footage of a public mural project done as a companion piece to the gallery exhibition, created by students from high schools all across Chicago; Reactions by museum patrons to the artwork on display in the exhibition; Guided tours of the exhibition for visiting school groups; and Reactions toward the mural by passersby on the street.
As a whole, these tapes provide insight into how various groups of people looked at and understood the intersections of power and oppression experienced by black and Jewish people in America, where the rifts existed between these two groups, and how their relationship might be healed. VIEW ALL VIDEOS
Othello Anderson (co-curator)
Claire Wolf Krantz (co-curator)
Kerry James Marshall
Hamza Walker (under the pseudonym Sonny Venice)
John Pitman Weber
DIRECTOR, SPERTUS MUSEUM:
CURATOR, DUSABLE MUSEUM:
Esther Charbit (instructor)
Kiela Songhay-Smith (instructor)
Sabrina Ann Esbitt
Joe Nelson II
Jenny Kristin Pollack