Exploring Jewish Art
While the museum is closed the JMM team is coming together to bring some of our favorite activities from our recent family programs direct to your homes. Each collection of materials will be inspired by either one of our exhibits, Jewish History, or a Jewish holiday.
All of the activities we share are designed for families to complete together and use supplies you are likely to already have in your home. The activities we offer include crafts, games, scavenger hunts, online story times, and more. You can check out previous activity packs here!
~The JMM Programs Team
Did you know that May is Jewish American Heritage month?
This month we’re using our weekly family activity packets to highlight different aspects of Jewish American history, inspired by our collections. This week’s activities focus on art, looking at just a few examples from what makes up the vast category of Jewish art.
What is Jewish art anyway? One kind of Jewish art is ceremonial objects, also known as Judaica. These are objects used in rituals during Shabbat and holidays, like Torah covers, yads, tallit, candlesticks, etc. and are often beautiful and intricately designed. Another kind of Jewish art is Jewish folk art, which includes thinks like papercutting, calligraphy, and wood carving.
Art can also be called Jewish if it was created by Jewish individuals. Jewish artists have worked in a variety of different styles across history. For some artists, like Marc Chagall, Judaism was central to their work, while for others, such as the Impressionist Camille Pissaro, the influence of their Judaism on their work is less apparent.
Learn about these different types of Jewish art through the activities below. From exploring the work of Maryland Jewish artists to creating your own ritual and folk art, we hope you enjoy this introduction to Jewish art.
Think about what you can learn by looking at and making art. The art objects in the Museum’s collections are not just beautiful works, they also tell us important historical information. Things like what materials were available to artists of the time, what places used to look like, and even what people valued at the time.
Art tells stories. What kinds of stories do you want your art to tell?
Jacob Glushakow was a Jewish Baltimore artist who painted scenes of everyday life, showing how our city and its people have changed over the years.
Now is a great time to use art to document your own life and how it has changed and is still changing. We’d love to add your work to our collections, just like Glushakow’s paintings! You can donate the work you create to JMM as part of our History is Now: JMM Collects Stories of the Pandemic Initiative.
Pencil, pen, markers, or paint
Learn more about Jacob Glushakow’s life and legacy in this video with his nephew, Robert:
Amalie Rothschild was another Jewish Baltimore artist with a very different style from Glushakow. She created abstract paintings and sculptures, works of art that don’t look realistic or lifelike.
In this activity, create your own work of abstract art using shapes, forms, and colors.
Pencil, pen, markers, or colored pencils
Bonus: Learn more about Amalie Rothschild in this blog post from former JMM intern Codi Lamb.
Make a Mezuzah
A mezuzah is one of the key ritual art objects for the home.
In this activity, create your own mezuzah case – we suggest hanging it at a kid-friendly height on a doorpost. This is a perfect activity for using recycled materials from around your home.
Empty matchbox or other small recyclable container with an opening
If you’re looking for more ways to practice hiddur mitzvah (the beautification of ritual objects), check out this website which has a collection of Jewish crafts that are great for holidays, Shabbat, and everyday life!
Papercutting is one of the most popular forms of Jewish folk art. While you can make papercuts anytime of the year, now is a particularly great time since some people decorate their homes with papercuts before the holiday of Shavout.
Bonus: Learn more about papercut artist Tamar Fishman, who also designed the official 2018 US Hanukkah postage stamp!
Discover more about the history of Jewish papercutting and see some examples of beautiful artwork in this video:
Explore one of the largest collections of Jewish art online with the Center for Jewish Art. View works of art that are hundreds (and even thousands) of years old as well as more modern pieces.
Learn more about Jewish women artists around the world at the Jewish Women’s Archive.
Wikipedia has a long list of Jewish American artists to explore.