2020 was a challenging year. A year that forced us into our physical spaces as the pandemic crashed on us. A year when we experienced a country politically divided, where moral and ethical rifts were exposed, and where we witnessed our democracy at the brink of collapse. Yet, while these challenges are still present, there is also hope and inspiration, and the arts are the language through which to express them.

2020 was also the year that I was selected as one of the inaugural fellows, together with musician Yoni Battat, for the Community Creative Fellowship that CJP and Jewish Arts Collaborative launched. I see this fellowship as light, while so much around us seems dark. And it is this light that pushes me forward into 2021, envisioning the ways in which I’ve been gifted the opportunity to immerse myself deeply in my art practice and to contribute to our communities by creating spaces for creative expression. 2021 is the year where we may be physically isolated, but also where we can make art, share stories, reflect and learn with and from each other in community.

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As part of the Community Creative Fellowship, I’m excited to explore the multi-layered and complex aspects of our Jewish identities. As I delve into the history of my own family’s migration from Poland to Mexico in the late 1920s, I have been excavating the threads of many stories. What stories do our families reveal, and which ones do they hide or bury? And what do these stories illuminate about people’s individual and collective decisions in the face of changing social, political, cultural and economic contexts? With these changing contexts or landscapes, what aspects of our identities are foregrounded, and which ones are relegated to the background?

While 2021 will allow me as an artist to explore my family’s history, as well as my intersecting identities and cultures as a Jewish Latina (or a Latina Jew, depending on the day!), I am as eager to bring people together through a number of community-engaged workshops. These workshops are a vital aspect of the Community Creative Fellowship. I envision workshops where the participants can explore, through the arts, their own (family) histories and stories, and their own intersectionalities; workshops where unique and universal stories emerge from such explorations and reflections. I am especially looking forward to including in the workshops Jewish people who do not fall squarely within the U.S. Ashkenazi culture, who have been at the margins (and sometimes marginalized) and Jewish people of color. My hope is to create the space for their stories and experiences to be foregrounded.

At a time when there are so many fractures in our society, what an exciting opportunity to use the arts as a bridge for us to listen to each other, to see what we have in common and to embrace our differences as we try to better understand and reflect on our multiple and multi-layered Jewish identities and cultures.

I look forward to sharing this artistic process and what we learn along the way!

The Community Creative Fellowship is powered by CJP and JArts. To learn more about the fellowship, click here.