Identity is personal. It can also be complex and nuanced, layered with a richness of ancestral memory and a source of pride that can help guide present and future experiences of ourselves and our community.
Exploration of identity is also at the heart of the current work of Community Creative Fellows Adriana Katzew and Yoni Battat. As Yoni explores his Mizrahi/Iraqi heritage through his music and Adriana dives into the intersectionality of her Mexican American/Latina and Jewish identities through her art, we all can witness and engage in their creative journeys as they continue to blog about their work each month.
This month we asked the Fellows:
The story of the recent holiday of Purim includes themes of both hidden identity and vulnerability. In your process, where might you have seen similar themes emerge? What questions connected to identity might your art ask others (and yourself) to consider?
“A sense of vulnerability emerged with each of my identities, which was largely shaped by the contexts and circumstances of my geographies. I grew to learn that many people had a hard time understanding the fact that I could be both Mexican American/Latina and Jewish. It was not a “combination” most people had encountered, so they would often choose one identity over the other to define me, depending on their own perspectives, biases or needs (“Let’s count her as Latina for our demographics,” or, “She’s not really Latina because she’s Jewish!”) In the process, I often choose to reveal some elements while keeping others intentionally hidden. As I create work about my own family story, I wonder what work will emerge as I create work that addresses the intersection of my identities, a liminal state in which my Jewish, Mexican and Latina identities dance together.”
—Adriana Katzew (read her full post here)
“In the Purim story, when Queen Esther reveals her identity as a Jew, she is burdened with the responsibility to speak on behalf of all Jews in Shushan. Because of her privileged influence in the king’s circle, she is thrust into a position of great power, holding the fate of her people in her hands. In a similar way, I have the privilege of being supported by the Community Creative Fellowship, and therefore the responsibility to represent my Iraqi identity to an audience of mostly Ashkenazi Jews who are now listening more closely than ever. In sharing my music, I hope to inspire listeners to break past the confines of self-doubt and make space for vulnerability, self-discovery and self-acceptance.”
—Yoni Battat (read his full post here)
The Community Creative Fellowship is powered by CJP and JArts. To learn more about the fellowship, click here.
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