Whatever Is Contained Must Be Released: My Jewish Orthodox Girlhood, My Life as a Feminist Artist

Overview

Helène Aylon was a good Jewish girl raised in orthodox Brooklyn, married to a rabbi, and mother of two when her world split apart. A widow at thirty, she broke free of tradition to become an eco-feminist artist whose work deals in transgressive images about war and peace, women's bodies, women and god, and the deeply religious world that continues to influence her work to this day.

This memoir is a charming dash through the years of a structured orthodox life and the artistic ...

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Whatever Is Contained Must Be Released: My Jewish Orthodox Girlhood, My Life as a Feminist Artist

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Overview

Helène Aylon was a good Jewish girl raised in orthodox Brooklyn, married to a rabbi, and mother of two when her world split apart. A widow at thirty, she broke free of tradition to become an eco-feminist artist whose work deals in transgressive images about war and peace, women's bodies, women and god, and the deeply religious world that continues to influence her work to this day.

This memoir is a charming dash through the years of a structured orthodox life and the artistic life that freed her to question the misogyny of her beloved religion. It is also a tell-all about the art world, with fascinating details about luminaries such as Ana Mendieta, Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko, and Betty Parsons.

Examples of Aylon's work included are her early doors for the Jewish chapel at JFK airport, her peace pillowcases (including one worn by Grace Paley), and her current search for the links between feminism and Judaism.

Helène Aylon is a visual, conceptual, and installation artist and eco-feminist whose work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum and the Jewish Museum in New York, the Aldrich Museum in Connecticut, and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, among many others. She has upcoming exhibitions at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. Aylon turned eighty this year.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
American conceptual artist Aylon was raised in Orthodox Jewish Borough Park, Brooklyn, the first girl born into a loving family who would have preferred a boy. In this richly evocative, captivating, and reflective memoir, Aylon describes her personal and professional evolution from her insular and traditional upbringing to living as an artist in Manhattan’s Westbeth artists’ residence and later in Northern California. Aylon’s writing is refreshingly energetic and conversational, vividly evoking the daily life of her childhood and the frequent conflicts she felt between her identity as a mother and daughter in Brooklyn and her emerging artistic identity in Manhattan. Her evolution into a thriving feminist artist and boldly experimental professor of art in 1970s and ’80s-era San Francisco demonstrates an inspiring reflectiveness, sense of self, and self-confidence. Most fascinating is this Jewish feminist’s creative integration of faith and culture into her art and how deeply her religious training informed and complicated her art and life. The inclusion of rare, evocative personal photographs and documents complete this revealing portrait, making it of great interest to anyone interested in Judaism’s intersections with art and feminism. (June)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558617681
  • Publisher: Feminist Press at CUNY, The
  • Publication date: 5/15/2012
  • Series: Jewish Women Writers
  • Pages: 350
  • Product dimensions: 7.20 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author


Helène Ayelon: Helène Aylon is a visual, conceptual, installation performance artist and eco-feminist whose art has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum in New York; the Jewish Museum in New York; The Aldrich Museum in Connecticut; the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, among many others. She has upcoming exhibitions at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. She has known and worked with many major artists and writers of the past forty years, including Ana Mendieta, Grace Paley, Ad Reinhard, and Mark Rothko. She continues to create new art and exhibit throughout the US and elsewhere as she turns eighty this year.
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