Sacred Land

March 19 – July 8, 2024
Opening Reception with the Artist: March 19, 2024 at 6-8 pm EST
Location: Heller Museum – Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, One West Fourth Street, New York
Photographs by Ralph Gibson

sacred land exhibition art

In Sacred Land, legendary American photographer Ralph Gibson, and producer Martin Cohen, have created a unique photographic exhibition and publication that capture the soul of Israel, both ancient and contemporary. The photographs convey the fundamental humanity and underlying affinities that connect all who deem this land as sacred, and express aspirations for mutual understanding and peace. At a time when the war and suffering in Israel and Gaza overwhelm us, Gibson’s images offer a compelling and hopeful outlook for the future.

Sacred Land invites us into the eye of the photographer as a first-time visitor to Israel – we see what he sees, what captures his attention. It is in the details, a particular gesture, a candid pose, a fragment, a moment, that we glimpse a deeper meaning. The essence of the images is their intimacy, we are drawn close to people, places, things, the instantaneous and the eternal. Their juxtaposition reveals the convergence of antiquity and modernity.


Ralph Gibson photo from Sacred Land


Ralph Gibson describes Israel as “the oldest and youngest country in the world,” a place where “ancient luminosity refracts into mythology and biblical wisdom” and the durability of its limestone foundations hardened with exposure to the air, “speak louder and stronger every thousand years or so…becoming as permanent as time itself.”


Ralph Gibson photo from Sacred Land


The natural beauty of the details of the landscape, nature, and millennia-old archaeological artifacts express a timeless sense of wonder and spirituality. The industrial, urban images convey the impact of human imagination, ingenuity, and necessity. While each individual image captures our attention, it is Gibson’s artful pairing of images that creates the special impact of these photographs. Etched stone encounters graffiti. The rugged desert intersects with man-made materials. A quietude amid the cacophony of modern life. Each juxtaposition sparks the viewer’s imagination in making the connections – visually, emotionally, and psychologically.


Ralph Gibson photo from Sacred Land


Gibson conveys the complexity and multiplicity of this sacred land – across ethnicities, faiths, and transcending the millennia. His images are captured in the moment – sometimes dramatic, sometimes reflective, always riveting. They express the universal humanity of each being, the transcendence of time, and the pulse of life.


Ralph Gibson photo from Sacred Land


Martin Cohen describes, “In this relatively small nation one can witness and relive the very beginnings of world history; experience the world’s most advanced institutions in science, technology, and medicine – and everything in between. Jerusalem exists at the intersection of nearly all modern religions.”


Ralph Gibson photo from Sacred Land


“In Ralph Gibson’s Sacred Land, one senses that this place is holy to all, across all of the differences that rupture this part of the world. This exhibition projects hope for a peaceful future, where all can find healing, empathy, and shared understanding,” explains Jean Bloch Rosensaft, Director, Heller Museum.


Ralph Gibson photo from Sacred Land


All images in this press release are copyright Ralph Gibson.

Ralph Gibson has produced over 40 monographs, and his photographs are included in 170 museum collections around the world and have appeared in hundreds of exhibitions. He has worked exclusively with the Leica for almost 60 years and has received numerous awards, including the Guggenheim Fellowship (1986) and Chevalier de la Legion d’honneur.

Martin Cohen is Chairman and Co-Founder of Cohen & Steers, Inc., an investment management firm, and a member of the Board of Governors of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. His love of Israel was the inspiration for this project, reinforced by his friendship and shared interests in music, guitar, and photography with Ralph Gibson.


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The exhibition catalog for Sacred Land can be viewed online at


Sacred Land exhibition art

Sacred Land by Ralph Gibson
Publisher: Lustrum Press
Available on

Presented by the Irma L. and Abram S. Croll Center for Jewish Learning and Culture with the generous support of Michele and Martin Cohen and George, z”l, and Mildred Weissman, z”l

Location: Heller Museum, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
One West Fourth Street, New York

Admission: Free, photo ID required.

Hours: Mondays-Thursday, 9 am – 6:30 pm

Tours/Information: 212-824-2218;

Media Contact for Sacred Land: Andrea Smith / Public Relations, +1-646-220-5950,