The Art of Aging

On View:

September 2, 2003 – June 25, 2004

Artists’ Reception:

Thursday, October 9, 6 – 8 PM

The Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum will present The Art of Aging, an international exhibition of works by 82 contemporary artists from North America, Israel, and England, from September 2, 2003 through June 25, 2004. Through painting, sculpture, photography, installation, fiber, mixed media, and video, the artists explore the diverse aspects of aging, including creativity and vitality, memory, anxiety, wisdom, physical change, loss, intergenerational interaction, responsibility, and optimism.

Featured artists include Sigmund Abeles, Eleanor Antin, Samuel Bak, Hyman Bloom, Max Ferguson, Larry Fink, Audrey Flack, Ben Katchor, Ibram Lassaw, Elaine Reichek, Jonathan Santlofer, Ivan Schwebel, George Segal, Kiki Smith, Joan Snyder, Art Spiegelman, Ruth Weisberg, and Barbara Zucker.

The exhibition explores the ways in which aging is a process that begins with birth – as a lifelong journey affecting the dynamics of human relationships, creativity, memory, continuity, and growth. Jewish text sources are full of references to values intrinsic to the aging process, from the respect attendant to one’s elders, honor for one’s parents, forty as the age of understanding, fifty as the age of counsel, the celebration of wisdom at age sixty, the celebration of strength at the age of eighty, and intergenerational and familial responsibilities.

“Our goal is to engage the larger public in reflecting on the Jewish values attendant to the aging process and in finding meaning in the universal aspects of life’s journey as it impacts on each of our own lives, our families, and our communities,” notes Jean Bloch Rosensaft, Director. “Moreover, this exhibition symbolizes the shared values and commitments of Israeli and North America Jewry in affirming the vitality of the human spirit.”

“The Art of Aging focuses on aging as a continuum,” Curator Laura Kruger notes. “It includes the view of young artists experiencing the first recognition of this transformation. It includes metaphors for the moments that are too emotional to visualize. It includes the exuberance and zest that maturity affords us. It includes the many aspects of long memories and the subtle, tragic diminutions of memory. It balances anxiety and loss of control with wisdom, continuity, and generous relationships. It offers creativity and choice as the antidote to forced redundancy and loneliness. We view, through the artist’s vision, death as an evolving process, a slow decline. Sorrow is mitigated by memory; images of fading nature, darkness falling, and clouds gathering conveys the melancholy reflections of a once vibrant life. Each of the works in this exhibition captures the vibrancy of life lived to its fullest, even as it seemingly slows down.”

“The inclusion of works by gifted artists expressing themselves through humor,” she adds, “illuminates the role of humor as the cushion to ease the vicissitudes of aging — the perfect astringent for maudlin thoughts.”

The Art of Aging was developed in conjunction with an exhibition, Golden Aging (The Third Color), organized by curator Ayana Friedman for the JDC-Eshel (The Association for the Planning and Development of Services for the Aged in Israel), presented in Jerusalem in 2000, and represented in this exhibition through the works of 13 Israeli artists. With the addition of 70 artists from North America and England, curated by Laura Kruger, this exhibition amplifies the artistic dialogue in the context of significant demographical shifts in the increasingly aging Jewish populations in the United States, Israel, and Europe.

This exhibition is co-sponsored by the HUC-JIR Museum and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and JDC-Eshel (The Association for the Planning and Development of Services for the Aged in Israel), with the generous support of UJA-Federation of New York.

The Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion presents the creativity of artists of all faiths exploring Jewish identity, history, and experience. By encouraging contemporary artists to illuminate issues of faith and culture, we hope to foster a deeper appreciation of Jewish heritage and build bridges of multi-ethnic and interfaith understanding.

JDC is the active, on-the-ground expert reaching out to Jewish communities in distress and working to enhance Jewish lives and Jewish life in Israel and around the world. Since 1914, JDC has brought care, compassion, and help to millions, and it has had a presence at one time or another in over 85 countries.

JDC-Eshel, the Association for the Planning and Development of Services for the Aged in Israel, is a partnership of JDC and a consortium of Israeli government ministries. JDC-ESHEL is the leader in developing services and facilities for all elderly Israelis; it helps veteran Israelis as well as the most recent immigrants, Jews as well as Arabs.

An Evening with Anita Diamant

Thursday, October 23 at 7:00 PM
Join Anita Diamant for a reading and celebration of the publication of her new book, Pitching My Tent: On Marriage, Motherhood, Friendship, and Other Leaps of Faith – a book of personal essays reflecting the shape of life as a wife, mother, friend, and member of the Jewish community.


Climbing Your Family Tree

Sunday, November 2 at 2:00 PM
A workshop for those seeking to chart family history and memory through an introduction to Jewish genealogy and methodologies specific to Jewish families, led by Debra Braverman, a professional genealogist and past officer of the Jewish Genealogical Society of New York.


Lilith Magazine’s Music Celebration

Tuesday, November 18 at 7:00 PM
A woman’s take on Jewish heritage and aging, this evening of Jewish women’s music presents cabaret singer Leslie Hollis, plus composer Mira J. Spektor and lyricist June Siegel’s mini-musical “Give Me Time,” feminist klezmer music, and more.


A Conversation Between the Artist and the Curator

Tuesday, December 2 at 7:00 PM
Join artist Joan Snyder and Jewish Museum curator Norman Kleeblatt as they talk about creativity, identity, and new forms of expression in contemporary art, sponsored by THEA (The House of Elder Artists).


To Everything There is a Season
Wednesday, December 10 at 7:00 PM
Join Dr. Leonard S. Kravitz and Dr. Kerry M. Olitzky in the study and discussion of the wisdom literature of the Book of Ecclesiastes: Chapter 12, providing new perspectives on life and aging as drawn from their new book, Kohelet: A Modern Commentary on Ecclesiastes (UAHC Press).


An Evening of Film

Thursday, March 4, 6:30 – 8:00 PM
Into the Fire: American Women In the Spanish Civil War
Julia Newman, producer and director
A film about the more than 2700 women who fought in the Spanish Civil War, the first major battle against Fascism.
Sid at 90
Howard Weinberg, producer and director
A portrait of rare perseverance that celebrates the pure love of performance that keeps an actor going, gig to gig, in spite of hard times, heartbreak, and virtual obscurity.


Celebration of Wisdom at 60 – Simchat Chochmah Workshop

Sunday, March 28, 1:00-4:00 PM
Peter Pitzele and Arthur Strimling will facilitate a workshop exploring the ways in which we can celebrate the arrival of age 60, the Age of Wisdom. This workshop will ask how we can move through negative images and stereotypes of aging to embrace the wisdom, mastery, and productivity that can only come with time.


Yom Hashoah Lecture

Refuge in Hell: How Berlin’s Jewish Hospital Outlasted The Nazis
Tuesday, April 20, 7:00-8:00 PM
Daniel Silver presents the unique story of the Berlin Jewish Hospital, which continued to function under the Nazis and was able to rescue the lives of Jews during the Holocaust. This book recounts the lives of Jews who lived and worked there, offers insight into their survival, and investigates the factors that contributed to the hospital’s continued existence during the destruction of European Jewry.
Daniel Silver has served as general counsel to the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency.


New Stories, New Poems, and the Ancient Art of Healing
The Inaugural Dr. Paul M. and Trudy Steinberg Distinguished Professorship in Human Relations and Counseling Lecture

Rabbi William Cutter, Ph. D
Wednesday, April 28 at 7:30 PM
Rabbi William Cutter is Director of the Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health, Dr. Paul M. and Trudy Steinberg are distinguished Professor of Human Relations and Counseling, Professor of Education and Modern Hebrew Literature, and Lecturer in Chaplaincy at HUC-JIR/LA. He has taught at the College-Institute since 1965, and has served as the Assistant Dean and Director of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education, which he helped found in 1970. Rabbi Cutter received his A.B. Degree from Yale University in 1959 and was ordained at the HUC-JIR in 1965. His current research concentrates on the development of modern Hebrew literature at the turn of the century and the ideological place of the Hebrew language in modern Judaism. He serves on the advisory board of the UCLA Medical Center Department of Spiritual Care and supervises the chaplaincy training of the students at HUC-JIR/LA.


The Art of Aging: Cultural Representations

A Seminar for Professionals and Lay Leaders
Thursday, April 29, 3:00-6:00 PM
Healthcare and social service agency professionals, clergy, artists, and the general public are invited to explore creativity and the aging process.
Rabbi Richard Address, D. Min., Director of Department of Jewish Family Concerns, Union for Reform Judaism (formerly UAHC)
Nancy Berman, Director Emerita, HUC-JIR Skirball Museum, Los Angeles
Dr. William Cutter, Dr. Paul M. and Trudy Steinberg Professor of Human Relations and Counseling, HUC-JIR/LA
Bel Kaufman, Author of Up the Down Staircase; Grand-daughter of Sholom Aleichem
Rabbi Nancy Wiener, Clinical Director, Jack and Hilda Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling, HUC-JIR/NY
Cosponsored by The Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health, HUC-JIR/Los Angeles; and UJA-Federation of New York Caring Commission


Staged Reading of a New Play Eighty-Three Years

Thursday, May 6, 7:00-9:00 PM
Rabbi Laura Katz Braun, playwright
Heidi Durrow, director
About a grandmother, her granddaughter, and a baby without a name…a new play that explores the intergenerational relationships within a Jewish family at vastly different points of the human life cycle, as both women struggle to imbue their lives with meaning.


The Cartoons of Aging

Wednesday, June 30 at 7:00 PM
Join cartoonists from The Art of Aging exhibition: Mort Gerberg, Samuel H. Gross, Sydney Harris, Ben Katchor, Paul Peter Porges, and Art Spiegelman, in a lively discussion of their work. Moderator: Arie Kaplan, comedy writer
Co-sponsored by Reform Judaism Magazine

Catalog and photographs are available on request.
Please contact Rachel Litcofsky: 212-824-2205