Biblical Women in Contemporary Art

On View

September 9, 2002 – January 10, 2003

Opening Reception

Sunday, October 6, 3-5 pm

Archetype/Anonymous: Biblical Women in Contemporary Art will be on view at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum from September 9, 2002 through January 10, 2003. Contemporary artists chose biblical women as subjects for works of art in an effort to creatively interpret the varied aspects of these iconic figures. They challenge the biblical tradition that has dominated Western civilization in an effort to examine the core meaning of the text. Through art, they depict images beyond the imagined or expected.

Over the last three decades biblical scholarship has given unprecedented attention to the women portrayed in the Bible. Literature produced by this scholarship explores the status and role of women in biblical texts and in the ancient world that produced them. Biblical materials often determine attitudes and policies that affect women’s lives. The enduring political and religious impact of the Bible on Western society is colored by the many ways in which biblical figures have been portrayed in postbiblical culture.

Male as well as female artists have turned to the Bible to choose subject matter. The artists, including Suzanne Benton, Matt Blackwell, Judy Chicago, Julie Dermansky, Ayana Friedman, Janet Goldner, Maty Grunberg, Carol Hamoy, Barbara Rose Haum, Tobi Kahn, Avner Moriah, Archie Rand, Deborah Rosenthal, Laura Lazar Siegel, Joan Snyder, Miriam Stern, Selina Trieff, Joyce Ellen Weinstein, and Ruth Weisberg, challenge stereotypes and the andocentric nature of biblical record and centuries of translation that have paid little attention to biblical women, many of whom are unnamed. The artists use color, material, texture, and technique to emphasize the spiritual power of the Biblical stories through artistic expression.

Laura Kruger, Curator of the HUC-JIR Museum, noted: ” The choice of an emblematic yet enigmatic figure reflects a personal search for a deeper significance in a rapidly changing world. In the last century the status of Western women greatly altered. The values attributed to the women of the Bible: piety, loyalty, resourcefulness, hope, tenacity, and protection of the family are no less valid at this moment then they were four thousand years ago. Changed, for women of the West, are the circumstances of independence and intellectual freedom. Women are no longer choiceless, bound by the rigid restrictions of an ancient society. It is the woman as activist, as historical persona that most artists choose to depict.”


Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum
One West 4th Street (between Broadway and Mercer Street), Manhattan


Mondays-Thursdays, 9 am – 5 pm; Fridays, 9 am – 3 pm; Selected Sundays, 10 am – 2 pm: October 6 and 20, November 3 and 24, December 8



Group tours, and additional information

please call (212) 824-2205.

Artists’ Panel – “Revisioning Biblical Women”
Tuesday, November 19, 6-8 pm
Moderator: Dr. Wendy Zierler, Assistant Professor of Modern Jewish Literature and Feminist Studies, HUC-JIR/NY
Panelists: Carol Hamoy, Tobi Kahn, Archie Rand, Deborah Rosenthal