Discover how Frank Stella, the celebrated American painter, sculptor, and printmaker, has found inspiration in Jewish themes throughout his career, from his earliest minimalist paintings influenced by the Nazi propaganda newsreels of his childhood, his mixed-media “Polish Wooden Synagogue” works commemorating “the obliteration of a culture,” and his Had Gadya narrative abstractions expressing a universal, aspirational message of justice and hope.
“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity,” “for everything there is a season,” and “the sun also rises” are all drawn from the biblical Book of Ecclesiastes. Artist Debra Band describes how her exquisite calligraphy, micrography, and paintings illuminate the first ever visual interpretation of this entire poetic text. Dr. Adriane Leveen analyzes the enduring wisdom and inspiration of a text expressing the beauty and transience of human life and accomplishments.
Art has the ability to challenge the status quo and encourage us to change our way of thinking. Several pieces produced by The Braid, exemplify this idea, such as True Colors and Sweet Tea and the Southern Jew. The Braid is a story company and non-profit organization grounded in Jewish culture and experience. Representatives from these works will engage in discussion about their connection to their monologues, internal issues they faced when preparing these pieces, and the positive and more difficult reactions they’ve received from audience members about these pieces.
Scholars of the Bible as literature since the heyday of literary criticism in the 1980s and 1990s have tended to focus on the Bible’s narratives; much less attention has been given to its significant collections of poetry. To what extent do our ideas about poetry shape our understanding of these texts? How do thinkers and poets in different eras approach the poetry of the Bible, and how do their contexts shape their expectations of what they find there? Steven Weitzman and Elaine James discuss the legacy of James Kugel’s history of ideas about biblical poetry (especially his The Idea of Biblical Poetry: Parallelism and its History [1981]). There is much to learn from how readers—ancient and modern—have read biblical poetry, related it to their own political contexts, and found in it models for new creative expressions.
Do artists have a responsibility to address social issues? Should they advocate for democratic, inclusive values? What is their role in fighting against racism, antisemitism, and inequities in our society? Dorit Jordan Dotan and Lloyd Wolf, distinguished artists and activists, discuss their mandate as expressed through their creativity. 
Dance is an important yet largely unrecognized motif in modern Jewish literature that helps us read and interpret these texts. This talk demonstrates how dance scenes in I. J. Singer’s Yiddish-language family epic Di brider Ashkenazi (The Brothers Ashkenazi)–a novel that chronicles Jewish life in Łódź–juxtapose late nineteenth-century dreams of embourgeoisement with the reality of early twentieth-century antisemitism. By examining seemingly disparate dance scenes, it is possible to gain a deeper perspective into the ways acculturation and antisemitism operate on the Polish-Jewish body.