Rarely do we post responses from visitors to our exhibitions unless they’re already published. However, having just received this thoughtful reaction to Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women, I feel compelled to post it. You can read more from this writer at his blog, www.kosherscene.com.
I wrestled with the matter, it deeply bothered me… Why would the Yeshiva University Museum present an exhibit of Confessional Comics by women mostly with little or no connection to religious Judaism? Yeshiva University is my alma mater (though I’ve since veered more to the right within the Orthodox spectrum) therefore the question, the grappling for an answer, became very personal.
As I looked at the panels on the wall, at the panels on the display cases I was sometimes disturbed by the “on your face” attitude, sometimes amused, sometimes pained by the inner lacerations of the artists’ souls and I understood why they would chose this particular media. Is it art? Is it literature? Frankly… neither Michelangelo, nor DaVinci need feel they might be knocked off their thrones in the august pantheon of the arts; neither Shakespeare, nor Cervantes need fear being thrown out from the upper corridors of literature’s palace into the dungeons of forgotten writers. Yet, this exhibit is far more relevant to us in the 21st century, far more relevant than all the classics because of the uncomfortable questions they pose to a comfortable people. Art is meant to provoke thought, to disturb if necessary, it is meant to touch a raw cord within the individual and make him/her think. Look at Picasso’s Guernica or Frank Cappa’s photo of a crippled boy trying to run away from taunting bullies and analyze the emotions they evoke
Though these women’s subjects may not always be specifically Jewish, while the way they try to solve what bothers them is not inherently Jewish, while Judaism may not necessarily have been their choice had they been asked before birth, their Jewishness shows through in almost every panel. I must therefore conclude that although this not for everyone, it is - nevertheless - an important exhibit of contemporary American Jewish culture and absolutely belongs in the Yeshiva University Museum… even if its first name is Yeshiva!