A Kartemquin Films crew visits artists John Rozelle and Kerry James Marshall in their respective studios prior to the Spertus Museum of Judiacia's 1994 exhibition, "Bridges and Boundaries: Chicago Crossings," an exhibition in which both artists are taking part.
0:27Copy video clip URL John Rozelle elucidates his distaste for the use of extended text in art and mentions his service in the Vietnam War.
1:44Copy video clip URL Kartemquin’s Jerry Blumenthal asks Rozelle whether or not he thinks Jews are different from other white people, to which Rozelle responds, “Well, they are and they are not… As soon as they latch on to the professed arrogance and professed superiority of European culture, I think they’re just like any other white person. … And I think they’re different in that they have this oppression that has been with them for ages,” he explains.
4:14Copy video clip URL Rozelle references the complex nature of oppression. “It is so gray, there are so many different ways you can think about it. There are black people who are oppressive—to black people! They might as well be white,” Rozelle says.
6:23Copy video clip URL Rozelle talks about his strong sense of African nationalism and how his views and methods clash at times with the traditional methods employed by the School of the Art Institute, where he teaches.
9:44Copy video clip URL Rozelle criticizes the Black community’s lack of support for the visual arts while praising the Jewish community’s supportive nature. “I think that it’s inexcusable for learned Black people not to know more about their visual art heritage… As far as the Jewish community is concerned… they tend to support the arts in general,” says Rozelle.
12:12Copy video clip URL Rozelle mentions a few of his Jewish artistic inspirations, including Ben Shahn’s book The Shape of Content, Leonard Baskin, and Rembrandt, et al.
13:55Copy video clip URL Rozelle talks about one of the most dangerous adjectives in the art world, “polemic.”
15:50Copy video clip URL B-roll footage of Rozelle’s “Red Summer Swimmer.”
16:52Copy video clip URL Kerry James Marshall talks about his initial response when asked to participate in the Spertus Museum’s exhibition. “It’s not something I had thought about a lot… you know, I don’t go around thinking everyday, ‘How do I feel about Jewish-American people?'” jokes Marshall. He goes on to explain that he recognized the serious nature of the topic at hand and, as such, decided he wanted to do a lot of research in preparation.
20:53Copy video clip URL Marshall lays out the progression of the piece he is currently working on for the Spertus show, a piece that involves the use of book covers as a commentary on the fact that Jewish historians played an important role in the Black identity movement of the second half of the twentieth century.
26:21Copy video clip URL Marshall shows the Kartemquin crew the aforementioned work in progress while mentioning the fact that he received assistance from a rabbi he met through fellow artist and participant in the Spertus show, Edith Altman.