SCJS receives donation of rare Latin American art books

Sun, November 10, 2013
SCJS receives donation of rare Latin American art books

Fourteen one-of-a-kind Latin American art and poetry books joined the Schusterman Center’s permanent collection of Jewish artifacts Weds., Nov. 13, courtesy of Northeastern University professor Stephen A. Sadow.

Created between 2009 and 2010, the 12” by 18” books feature 28 Jewish writers and artists from eight Latin American countries. The 14 poets include César Tiempo (Argentina), Angelina Muñiz-Huberman (Mexico) and Juana García Abás, while the 14 artists include Hugo Goldgel (Argentina), Raquel Schwartz (Bolivia) and Ileana Pisk (Costa Rica).

The set radiates a collaborative spirit, evinced not just in its roster of contributors, but also in its origin. Renowned Argentine Jewish artist Perla Bajder conceived of the idea as a showcase for Jewish Latin American poetry and art. Sadow edited the books, with Bajder and museum curator Irene Jaievsky as co-editors. All three contributed introductory essays to each book.

“The books are unique,” Sadow said. “There’s nothing like them anywhere. The project was a team effort, based in Buenos Aires, that involved 42 people from numerous countries.”

The books also served as an impetus for the creation of new art: each of the 14 poems, which Sadow selected from a collection of Latin American poetry translated by American poet Jim Kates, inspired a corresponding work of art. Sadow, Bajder and Jaievsky chose artists whose sensibilities and styles matched those of the poems. Each poem-image pair focuses on a different Jewish theme—e.g., mysticism, the Book of Genesis, and the Holocaust.

“Taken together, [the books] show the brilliance and energy of Latin American Jewish culture,” Sadow said.

Sadow has spent much of the last three years presenting the books internationally. Originally exhibited at the Jewish Museum of Buenos Aires, the books have since been shown at seven U.S. universities, the Argentine Consulate in New York, a bookstore in Mexico City, and the Jewish Federation of Central Massachusetts.

“I feel that they are a major accomplishment of my career as a professor,” Sadow said. “Having taken them to so many places, I feel an affection for them.”

After years of travel, the books landed in their permanent home at SCJS following Sadow’s lecture “Hand-Crafted Fusion: Latin American Jewish Art and Poetry Books” Nov. 13. Sadow called the center “the perfect home” for the books, citing its focus on North and South American Jewish culture, as well as UT’s world-renowned Latin American studies collection and large Jewish and Hispanic populations. He also noted that SCJS would treat the books as “an important acquisition” and emphasized his appreciation of the center’s interest, which was spearheaded by SCJS Acting Director Naomi Lindstrom.

“Professor Naomi Lindstrom is very enthusiastic about having the books in the center,” Sadow said. “That is very important to me.”

Lindstrom praised the books and said the donation will inspire SCJS to pursue its mission further.

"We at the Schusterman Center are without exaggeration thrilled to provide a permanent home for the artist's books, which ... have traveled all over the Americas fascinating diverse audiences," Lindstrom said. "They are a wonderful example of artistic collaboration. With their fusion of much-admired poems and original art, they are quite literally unique, and their presence at the center will serve as a constant reminder to us to pursue our mission to become a focal point for the study of Jewish life in the Americas."

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