Adriana Katzew is a photography-based artist, inaugural CJP Community Creative Fellow and CJP grantee.
“I explored my maternal grandparents’ immigration to México from Poland through objects that hold memory. This piece is inspired by my grandfather’s daily ritual of drinking Lipton tea and by his close circle of friends, all Jewish immigrants as well. Each tea bag features one of the people in his circle, using photographs from their immigrant registration forms. This piece features my maternal grandmother, Chuma.”
Adriana Katzew is an artist, educator, and scholar. Her photography-based art practice reveals her interest in social documentary, history, and marginalized voices. Her work strives to unearth stories and memories of people, moments, and places, addressing societal conditions and issues of social justice. Through her work, Adriana captures an often-voiceless segment of society and uncovers the individual narratives and humanity of each subject.
Adriana is a professor of art education at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, where she focuses on community engagement and social justice, Latinx activism through the visual arts, and arts-based approaches to interdisciplinary teaching and learning. She holds a doctorate from Harvard Graduate School of Education, a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University.
How does your connection to Jewish community influence your art?
A more appropriate question would be: How does my Jewish identity influence my art? My childhood in Mexico’s robust Jewish community shaped my sense of self as a Jewish Mexican. These two aspects of my identity weave their way into my art, though sometimes one aspect is more at the forefront than the other, depending on the body of work.
Finish this thought: In order to create, I need…
- Time, time, time! It’s not always easy as a parent with a full-time job. I am most excited when an idea emerges that I’m passionate about investigating as a researcher and artist, and when that idea leads to rich and meaningful artwork. And that takes time, as does getting into the creative flow.
- A journal. That’s where I put down my ideas and ask question. My journal serves as the place for my mental and creative roadmap. I use a different journal for each project I’m working on.
- Coffee. I cannot go into my studio and create until I’ve had a good cup of coffee. Coffee is my ritual needed to start the creative process.
- Showers. When I’m working on something and I start to feel stuck, I take a shower. That’s the place where I come up with solutions and where most of my creative ideas emerge.
What’s your next artistic project or challenge?
For now, I will continue to explore my maternal grandparents’ immigration to Mexico from Poland, a project I have been exploring as CJP’s inaugural Community Creative Fellow. My hope is to go back to Mexico and retrace their steps and make art about that. I’m also feeling the urge to travel to Poland and find the towns they grew up in, see what I can find about their lives back then, and create work from that experience.
The next artistic project will focus on the experiences of being both Latina and Jewish—not just my own, but others as well. My hope is that this project will bring a sense of community to many of us who often feel alone as we hold these identities. And I would not be surprised if food weaves itself through these projects as a way to elicit memory.
Learn more about CJP’s arts and culture initiative.