The Myhren Gallery in the Shwayder art building opened this winter quarter with an exhibition entitled Diaspora.
This exhibition is comprised of photographs by FrCB)dCB)ric Brenner, a French artist, who has traveled the world in search of Jews with the desire to learn something about their culture. By seeking out Jews, Brenner created documentation of the Jewish diaspora.
There are about 50 photographs in this exhibit that say a different thing about Jews and their cultures. All of the photographs have some sort of narrative, whether there is a story behind the image or one that is represented more evidently in the photograph itself.
There is a photograph called “Purim,” which made me reminisce about my childhood. In this image, there are two children in a Jerusalem alley way dressed up in their holiday costumes (Purim is similar to Halloween). This photo reminded me of when I went to Hebrew school on Purim and dressed up for the day.
Some of the places where the photographs were taken were somewhat surprising. These included Yemen, India, Ethiopia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Alaska. These do not seem to be places where one might expect to meet Jews.
There were a good deal of photos taken in the United States including Florida, New York and California. The photo from California is a family portrait of Levi Straus’s descendants in San Francisco. And in Miami Beach, Florida, the Jewish Motorcycle Club poses with their Hawgs in front of their synagogue.
In Greece, a group of four men show their tattoos from the Holocaust.
There are many images from Russia of communal workers shown in their poor living conditions. Many of the photographs are intense and have the intent of making a strong impact, while others are more light-hearted and even humorous.
For example, there is a photograph Commack, New York of people standing waiting to get their picture taken in front of a Western Wall backdrop.
Something that is striking about all of these photographs is that Brenner had to do a great deal of research to seek these people out and bring them together to take their picture. That is what makes these images so incredible. All the people within them have some common bond that brings them together and sometimes it goes beyond just their religion.
All of the photographs in this exhibit are extremely powerful and make the statement that Jews have spread out all over the world and they all live very differently.
This event was sponsored by the Center for Judaic Studies and will run through March 10. In addition to this exhibition, there will be a whole series of discussions, concerts and film to educate people on Celebrating the Diversity of Jewish Art and Culture around the World. For more information about this series, visit