One Nation: Contemporary Artists Consider America, Past, Present, and Future at the Dr. Bernard Heller Museum


Manfred Anson’s Statue of Statue of Liberty Hanukkah Lamp expresses the
spirit of this exhibition, in which contemporary artists consider the state of our
nation and convey their hopes for a just future.
Anson was one of 20 boys rescued out of Nazi Germany by the Jewish Welfare
Guardian Society of Australia and later immigrated to the U.S. in 1963. He
designed his Hanukkah lamp for the centennial of the Statue of Liberty in 1986
to express his gratitude for America’s freedoms.
Here we see the Statue of Liberty’s promise to all those seeking a safe haven in
this country combined with the Jewish symbol of religious freedom. Jewish
and universal values are linked in the cast souvenir figurine candleholders,
each inscribed with a significant event in Jewish history, surmounted by the
American eagle.
This Hanukkah lamp – and this exhibition – remind us of our responsibility
to take action against the systemic racism, attacks on human rights, and rising
antisemitism that divide our nation. Together, we must ensure that our country
endures as a guiding light of liberty and justice for all.

Jean Bloch Rosensaft
Director, Dr. Bernard Heller Museum


January 26- July 20, 2023

Dr. Bernard Heller Museum, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, New York

Jean Bloch Rosensaft, Director
Dr. Laura Kruger, Curator Emerita
Susan Rosenstein, Registrar and Archivist
Susan H. Picker, Ph.D., Assistant Curator, Catalogue Design
Phyllis Freedman, Co-Curator, Exhibitions
Nancy Mantell, Ph.D., Co-Curator, Travelling Exhibitions
Rose Starr, Ph.D., Research Director
Eleanor Berman, Museum Communications
Ellen Rosenbush, Curatorial Assistant
Raj Medhekar, Exhibition Installation


This was the Founders’ vision for America: a nation forged
from different cultures, national origins, religions, and
economic classes – yet unified by a shared commitment
to freedom, democracy, and guaranteed individual
rights. How is this vision being interpreted in our nation
today? The contemporary artists in this exhibition have
investigated America’s aspirations as well as its challenges
through works mirroring the diversity of American culture
and experience.
Generations of leaders are portrayed in Arthur Szyk’s
illuminated Declaration of Independence’s founding
fathers; in Jeffrey Schrier’s montage of presidents; and in
Archie Rand’s portrayal of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Constitution itself provides the strong sails guiding our
nation’s journey in Mark Podwal’s etching
of the eponymous ship.
The trials and triumphs of becoming an American are
expressed in Miriam Stern’s bundles, symbolizing the
“baggage” brought by immigrants; in Evelyn Eller’s family
immigration story; and in Heather Stoltz’s evocation of
those striving to enter this country today. Photographers
Lloyd Wolf and Paul Margolis record the struggle for
acceptance as newcomers labor to achieve the fabled
American dream.
The Statue of Liberty’s iconic welcoming message inspires
the works by Ronit Levin Delgado and Michal Nachmany,
while Bonnie Heller depicts the joy of new citizenship in
a country of remarkable diversity. Alan Falk’s Echod (the
Hebrew word for one) focuses on what unites us, rather
than what divides us as a nation.
Our motto, E Pluribus Unum, expresses more than
an ideal. It reflects an essential truth about both nature and
human society: we are stronger and more resilient together,
embracing all of our differences, than we are apart.
Phyllis Freedman
Curator, Dr. Bernard Heller Museum


Immigration Rally at U.S. Capitol, 2013
Photograph, 12″ x 12″

Commissioned by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
Wolf explains, “As the child of a German-Jewish
refugee fleeing fascist oppression, the grandchild
of impoverished immigrants who came to America
seeking freedom and opportunity, and the resident
of Arlington, Virginia’s Columbia Pike corridor, one
of the nation’s most ethnically-diverse communities,
I felt the clear message that this young girl conveys
with all my heart.


Justice for Woman Workers, 2021
Woodcut; 16″ x 20″

The injustice immigrant farmworkers face is expressed by
the women who work the fields, provide food for our nation,
and are their families’ primary caregivers.


Sister Universe (I Am Because We Are), 2021
Oil and beeswax on paper; 9″ x 7″

Clasping hands and gazing into each other’s eyes, these
two women share their common humanity, amidst a
garden flourishing from unity.


Endurance, 2020
Acrylic paint with collage and photo on canvas; 12″ x 12″

The rugged stone, cement, and brick walls encasing this
immigrant woman express the challenges and fortitude of
those seeking America’s promise of a better life.


Peace or Violence: NYPD 1961 Plymouth Savoy, 2020
Oil on canvas; 40″ x 40″

Minute figures restrain a massive police car, in a work
inspired by historic NYC police cars and the 2010 song
“Peace or Violence” by the Belgian singer Stromae.


We the People, 2018
Archival pigment print, 26″ x 20″

A young boy holding this sign points to
the impact of electoral decisions made
today on future generations.


The Kissing of the Liberty, 2021
Lipstick on canvas; 50″ x 36″

This Statue of Liberty, composed of bright red lipstick
kisses, evokes feminine power and the immigrant artist’s
love for American rights, including freedom of expression.


Seeding America, 2021
Photograph; 20″ x 30″

This municipal garden in Skokie, IL, once the home to
many Holocaust survivors and site of a pro-Nazi march,
offers an oasis to the city’s diverse international residents.


Heritage #3, 1998
Paper collage; 25″ x 39″

Sepia archival documents of the artist’s
family’s immigration through Ellis Island
describe these European immigrants on the
cusp of becoming Americans.


ECHAD – One, 2017 (cover image)
Oil on canvas; 24″ x 18″

An image of “everyone,” focuses on what unites rather
than divides us as a nation – core moral and humanistic
values and the fundamental desire for peace and justice.


I Am Black, 2022
Tapestry, 54″ x 57″

The Biblical heroine Shulamit, the central figure in the
Song of Songs and exemplar of young womanhood, takes
pride in her dark skin, “grazed by the sun.”


Border Landscapes, 2020
Welded steel, 20″ x 40″

The American landscape calls us to enjoy its
strength, beauty, and diversity


Searching for Democracy, 2012
Quill pen ink on canvas bag; 18″ x 12″ x 6″

This U.S. Mint or bank bag, discarded in
2008, is inscribed with our Constitution’s
values and alerts the public about money’s
influence on our elections.


The Wait, 2020
Oil on panel; 16″ x 20″

Uprooted, alienated immigrants are embedded in the
fabric of our “melting pot” nation, formed of disparate
backgrounds and increasingly isolated by the Covid-19


The Climb, 2022
Plywood and rubber; 20″ x 29″

This perilous climb expresses the struggle of many
individuals – immigrants, the formerly incarcerated,
and the poor – to advance in our increasingly
stratified society.


Daughter of the American Revolution, 2021
Mixed media; 12″ x 16″ x 2″

Abigail Minis, a supporter of the Revolutionary War
and the only Jewish member of the Daughters of the
American Revolution, acknowledges Jewish women’s


Post No Hate, 2021
Photograph; 39″ x 27″

Masonite boards protecting store windows during the
pandemic were ideal urban canvases for graffiti artists’
self-expression and aspirations for peace.


Recaps & Reconnaissance, Blue, 2013
Mixed media, wood panel; 30″ x 40″

The artist asks, “Are we still one nation, or have we become
a country of misaligned interests and power plays?”


Matron America, 1909
Rosh Hashanah printed paper greeting card, 4″ x 3″

Collection of Rabbi Elliott Kleinman
Printed in Germany with Hebrew and English New Year’s wishes for an
American market, this European immigrant family is greeted by “Lady


The New Americans, 2021
Acrylic on canvas: 24″ x 24″

The artist depicts the ceremony at which her son’s
Cambodian friend became an American citizen,
amidst immigrants from around the world.


Synagogue – East 14th Street: An American Story, 2021
Digitally-manipulated photography, printed on fabric and quilted;
24″ x 18″

The transformation of the First German Baptist Church of
the 1860s-1880s, to the Ukrainian Autocephalic Church of St.
Volodymyr in the 1920’s-1950’s, to the Town and Village Synagogue
since 1962, describes New York’s ever-changing diversity.


Seeking Asylum, 2018
Textile, mixed media,
72″ x 24″

Children separated from
their parents are depicted
by many hands, whose
varied colors and textures
represent the diverse
ethnicities of those
seeking asylum.


Detained, Contained, 2019
Mylar, decals, snaps; 25″ x 23″

Insulating “shock blankets” are ubiquitous in the worldwide immigration and
refugee crises. The uncomforting silver Mylar “onesie” contrasts technology’s
wealth with society’s meager compassion for immigrants.


QXTYRH, 2021
Acrylic on wood, 30″ x 24″ x 2″

For this artist-son of WWII German
Jewish refugees, liberty and justice are
essential to the human condition, as
expressed by art that “responds to the
capacity of the soul to be at home in the
world while signaling transcendence.”


Sotomayor, J. Dissenting, 2022
Collage; 19″ x 13″

Distraught women hover over Justice Sotomayor’s dissent to
the Supreme Court decision permitting Texas to ban women’s
constitutional right to an abortion.


Immigrants are Essential, 2017
Photograph; 11″ x 14″

Multigenerational, multi-ethnic protestors advocating for
reform highlight the importance of immigrants and their
essential jobs in the work force.


Rainy Dayz, 2021
Acrylic and oil on canvas; 30″ x 40″

Global citizens, sheltered by their umbrellas, exude
pride as a family now living in a new place.


It’s a Long Old Road, but I Know I’m Gonna Find the End, 2018
Mixed media, 23.5″ x 19″

This image of the Statue of Liberty is inscribed with the 1931 blues
song by Bessie Smith, whose ancestors arrived here as slaves but
who as African American contributors to the arts and history are the
embodiment of America’s strength and vitality.


9 Times a Hero, 2021
Acrylic on mulberry paper; 17″ x 14″

The artist’s high school physical education teacher, Marine Staff Sergeant Albert
L. Ireland, was the only U.S. Marine to be awarded nine Purple Hearts for bravery
in WWII’s Battle of Okinawa and in Korea, by defending America’s freedom.


Ship of State, 2003
Etching; 20.25″x 16.25″

The Constitution itself provides the U.S.S. Constitution’s sails,
setting a safe, steady course for this nation’s government after the
9/11 tragedy.


Martin Luther King, Jr., 1971
Acrylic on canvas, 24″ x 18″

A portrait of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning social
activist who, through peaceful protest, sought equality
and human rights for African Americans and the
economically disadvantaged and influenced the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.


The Dove, 2019
Acrylic on canvas, 24″ x 24″

The dove of Noah’s Ark and the great flood is a symbolic
harbinger of peace, representing hope across cultures.


The Struggle to Overcome Invisible Barriers, 2021
Archival pigment print, 24″ x 36″

The swallowtail butterfly struggling to get through a
closed window symbolizes the struggles of immigrants
and people of color to overcome barriers in our society


Disentangled, No. 2, 2013
Collage, 14″ x 11″

Fragmented photos express the continuous movement of
people seeking a better life to escape from turmoil caused
by global warming or political repression.


Stranger in a Strange Land, 2021-22
Hand-cut digital prints on museum board; 9.5″ x 13″

Individual identity is presented as a puzzle, contrasting
assimilation and homogenization of diverse backgrounds
with retention of one’s culture and ethnicity.


Look for America, 2003
Mixed media montage, 34″ x 28″

Images of the assassinations of JFK and Martin Luther King, the Kent State
uprising, and the Vietnam and Iraq wars, juxtaposed in an idealized view of
our nation, express the reality of persistent inequality, environmental threat,
and racial tension.


Numbers: Bamidbar, Traveling, 2018
Acrylic on board mounted on wood; 36″ x 48″

The Israelites’ 40-year wanderings through the wilderness
toward the Promised Land expresses the journey toward
eventual redemption by a mixed race person – European,
Semitic, and African – demonstrating that “all people are part
of the Exodus story.”


Protest, 2020
Photograph; 12″ x 18″

Soodalter’s close focus through a macrolens reveals a hidden
world of strange shapes, colors, hints of motion, and energy.
Peeling paint and rusting metal express the emotion and
tension inherent in the issues of racial inequality in America.


Red, White and Blue, 2021
Oil and acrylic painting; 20″ x 24″

In Genesis 12:1, God commanded Abraham to “Go forth
from your native land.” This work expresses the call
heard throughout this country by immigrants who left
their countries of origin to seek a better life and create a
collective society.


Pekelakh, 2020 (back cover image)
Oil on canvas; 48″ x 36″

Since the Exodus, Jews and other immigrant groups have carried pekelakh, bundles, as part of their wandering and loss,
expulsion and relocation. Symbolizing the figurative baggage we all carry, the artist fills her bundles with her battles
against racism and injustice, and challenges us to confront our attitudes and actions.


Mending Our Country, 2021
Cotton fabrics, wire and polyester stuffing,
19″ x 37″

Stoltz explains, “On January 6th, with
rioters storming the Capitol building and
a president rejecting the results of the
election, I had lost hope in the system and
people running it. My tattered patchwork
flag with seams exposed and frayed
represents this fraying of democracy and
the state of the country. With Biden’s
peaceful inauguration, I added soft
sculpture figures to stitch the flag back together and give each other a hand. They can never mend it completely; the flag
will always show signs of wear. The struggle is not over, but we can start working together again toward a better future.”


Declaration of Independence of the United Sates, 1950
Printed illumination, 38.5″ x 32″

Collection of Dr. Bernard Heller Museum, HUC-JIR/NY
This illumination of America’s charter document is framed by a
portrait of George Washington, scenes of the Revolutionary War,
and the national symbols of the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall,
and the bald eagle.


Everyone is Different, Everyone is the Same. 2021
Oil on canvas; 30″ x 30″

Five tree trunks, each with different multi-colored
stripes, evoke the diversity of humanity of all hues, all
sharing the green earth and sunset sky.


Stanton Street Shul Amulet, 2009
Acrylic paint and gold leaf on canvas; 40″ diameter
Inspired by Lady Liberty and the fanciful animals painted on
this synagogue’s walls, but traumatized by 9/11 and recent
waves of antisemitism, Verwer created this amulet to provide
protection for synagogues and assert freedom of religion.


Liberty with Scaffolding, 2022
Oil on canvas, 61″ x 32″

French sculptor Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty is depicted
as it was in 1884 prior to its installation 1886. Its
protective scaffolding represents its vulnerability and
expresses the possibility and promise of an ideal we
must continue to work to achieve.


The Sixth Commandment, 2014
Digital serigraph, archival pigmented inks; 30″ x 40″

Wolff says, “Murder, whether by sword, gun, or willfully refusing
to be vaccinated, destroys a civil society. Through the years
our democracy has been repeatedly compromised by lynching,
assassinations, and the refusal to outlaw automatic weapons.”