Dance Yourself Free

This Sunday, the Jewish Museum will host its annual Freedom Art Jam to celebrate Passover with art, music, and dancing. This family-friendly event features performances by The Macaroons and Baby Loves Disco, as well as activities such as matzah storybook making and gallery tours. In anticipation, we sat down with Rachel Levine, Senior Manager of Family Programs, to talk more about what we can expect from this year’s event.

Jewish Museum: Why does the Jewish Museum celebrate Passover, a holiday about the exodus from Egypt, with music, art workshops and dancing?

Rachel Levine: Inspired by the beautiful Passover objects we have on view, we developed this holiday celebration for families that is immersive and artistically engaging for many ages.  Through art and music we hope families can playfully and creatively connect with Passover in a new way, whether it may be through art-making, dancing, and more.

JM: How do you think that the rituals and spirit of Passover will be captured by this year’s events and activities?

RL: The spirit of the holiday and concept of freedom will be captured through movement and dance; ritual objects will be explored in the galleries and reinterpreted through a large collage mural; and the Passover story will be expressed through painting activities.

Installation photo of the exhibition "Masterpieces & Curiosities: Nicole Eisenman's Seder

Installation view, Masterpieces & Curiosities: Nicole Eisenman’s Seder. The Jewish Museum, NY. Photo by: David Heald.

JM: When kids see the art on display, do they ever have reactions that really surprise you? What’s the benefit of having an event like this take place at the Jewish Museum?

RL: We are constantly delighted by the way children get inspired by the art on view. Having this event here at the Museum offers families the opportunity to have first-hand experiences with powerful artwork from centuries ago to the current day. Seeing exquisite Passover plates from the collection as well as the painting Seder by contemporary artist Nicole Eisenman — a striking image of a family at the Seder table — allows families to discover many powerful perspectives related to the holiday.

JM: Ok, I have to know, who invented the Passover-themed dances? I want to meet the person behind the “matzah ball bump” and the “frog hop twist,” they sound really fun.

RL: Thanks! They were fun to come up with! We worked with the Baby Loves Disco DJs to design these themed dances that would get families grooving while contagious dance hits are played.

JM: Which art workshop do you think will be the biggest hit? The giant Seder plate collage sounds like fun….

RL: The giant Seder plate will be great for families who enjoy collaborating on a large-scale artwork. The Passover Art in the Round should be exciting for children who enjoy painting, while the matzah storybooks will engage families who like creating stories together. And, of course, for those who love dancing, Baby Loves Disco and The Macaroons will be quite a hit.

JM: Are there any new activities at this year’s celebration to which we should look forward?

RL: Each year we create new art activities — The Macaroons are new to the Freedom Art Jam program. Hope to see you there!

The Charming Woman

We love our docents! One of ours stopped by to show us an incredible set of 1950s beauty guides that her daughter found at home.

The Charming Woman

Beauty expert Helena Rubinstein wrote the columns on skin care and cosmetics for a mail order course entitled “The Charming Woman.” This quaint, day-by-day lesson plan promises to help women “get more out of life” by attaining “more buoyant joy” and “complete fulfillment of their every aspiration.”

In one essay, Madame instructs women on the importance of taking care of their skin. “In my travels all over the world, I have come in contact with millions of girls and women in all walks of life; all types, with all types of complexions,” she writes, emphasizing her worldly knowledge. Rubinstein urges that every woman — whether she’s a teenage schoolgirl, a debutante, a professional woman, a home-maker, or a grandmother — needs one thing: a glowing complexion. She insists that no amount of becoming clothes or captivating jewelry can surpass this fundamental asset. The takeaway message is clear: “A beautiful complexion is a woman’s most prized possession.”

“There is an amazing amount to know about your face before you are ready to consider the problems of makeup and hairstyling,” Rubinstein instructs in this lesson entitled, “Your Face Is Your Fortune.”

With the help of somewhat surreal illustrations, Rubinstein teaches the reader how to correctly analyze her own face. First, she identifies seven types — from the pear-shaped face with its “bug-a-boo” of a heavy jawline, to the heart-shaped face (“one of the prettiest of all faces”) — to which the reader should match her own. Continue reading

Views from the Table

Nicole Eisenman's Seder

Nicole Eisenman (American, b. France, 1965), Seder, 2010, oil on canvas, 39 1⁄16 × 48 in. The Jewish Museum, New York. Purchase: Lore Ross Bequest; Milton and Miriam Handler Endowment Fund; and Fine Arts Acquisitions Committee Fund, 2011–3

A family gathers for Passover dinner. The table, laden with the trappings of observance and celebration, seems to keep its sitters at a distance. They hold their Haggadot, with pages softened by use, seemingly caught in disparate worlds. What does one make of this family of different faces, to which the viewer — whose hands loom large over the proceedings — belongs? Continue reading