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Happy Pride Month! 

06/19/2023 07:18:49 PM

Jun19

I had an opportunity recently to visit the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. I would definitely recommend this museum which covers the America Jewish Experience from the Colonial period through our own day. The gift shop alone is worth a visit! (I do love gift shops and I love Judaica... so what is not to like?). I lived in Philadelphia while in art school in 1981 and the following year (after I quit art school)  and worked as a secretary at the historic Congregation Mikveh Israel. In those years the Museum of American Jewish History (known as MAJH) was a small museum hosted by Congregation Mikveh Israel. It is really gratifying how to see how it has increased in size, status and name.  

The museum has a tradition of inviting artists to "reflect on and reinterpret" the museum content. The current guest artist and guest curator is Jonathan Horowitz who is described by the museum as "an artist known for incorporating social issues into his practice." 

From the museum website: 

Horowitz, an artist distinguished for his critical engagement with politics and culture, has organized a series of installations by artists of diverse ages and backgrounds across generations. Works explore transformative changes the country has experienced since 2020, addressing racism, antisemitism, women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and more.  

Among these pieces are two of Horowitz's pieces. One is a large wall installation entitled "Pink Curve", inspired by a white on white wall installation by the artist Elsworth Kelly at The Holocaust Memorial Museum in DC. The Elsworth Kelly installations are four very large pieces... all white, meant to represent memorial tablets.  The piece "Pink Curve" as described by Horowitz is a "hybrid of the Elsworth Kelly sculpture and the Pink Triangle"  that gay men were forced to wear in  Nazi Germany, but was later reclaimed as a symbol of the gay rights movement. The large piece is visible from the central staircases of the museum. 

The other piece is a very glittery amalgamation of a pride flag and an American flag. This is a glitter painting and is described in this way: "Horowitz’s glitter painting “Rainbow American Flag for Jasper in the Style of the Artist’s Boyfriend” appropriates both the work of Jasper Johns and that of Horowitz’s partner, Rob Pruitt, known for his glitter paintings of panda bears."

It was interesting to view these pieces during Pride Month and to have an opportunity to reflect on the intersection of the American Jewish and LGBTQ+ experiences in America. I am reminded by how much we share in the desire to be seen,  respected and accepted. I am reminded that the visual symbols we now wear with pride even though once they may have been symbols of shame as in the pink triangle. And that surprisingly, the symbol of the American flag with its stars and stripes still conveys "America" even when its color scheme is shifted to the colors of  a glittery rainbow. But mostly, I felt a sense of pride that a Jewish museum is not afraid to include pieces created by and created about the LGBTQ+ experience.

For more about the museum and these pieces, please refer to this link: 

The Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History

Thu, February 22 2024 13 Adar I 5784