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Contemporary Jewish Museum Presents Jewish Folktales Retold: Artist as Maggid

Fourteen diverse contemporary artists act as modern maggids—interpreting traditional Jewish folktales and characters in new, commissioned works inspired by the rich Jewish tradition of stories that incorporate cautionary tales, traditional wisdom, and the supernatural.

The Hebrew concept of maggid has multiple meanings and layers. The most basic definition is that of a religious teacher and teller of stories. Contrasted with the more formally trained rabbis, the lay maggids acted as repositories and transmitters of cultural knowledge, folklore, and social norms and mores.

The exhibition explores concepts such as transformation and metamorphosis, good and evil, moral education, political and class metaphors, the role of women, and storytelling in contemporary art. It features new commissioned works including sculpture by Elizabeth Higgins O’Connor and Julia Goodman; installations by Michael Arcega, Tracey Snelling, the team of Andy Diaz Hope and Laurel Roth Hope, David Kasprzak, Mads Lynnerup, and Mike Rothfeld; photography by Dina Goldstein and Youngsuk Suh; paintings by Vera Iliatova, M. Louise Stanley, and Inez Storer; and video by Chris Sollars.

Each work is accompanied by a listening station where visitors can hear Bay Area storytellers reading the folk tales that served as the artist’s primary inspiration.

Organized by The Contemporary Jewish Museum (The CJM), San Francisco and curated by CJM Assistant Curator Pierre-François Galpin, with CJM Chief Curator Renny Pritikin, in cooperation with folklorist Howard Schwartz.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

More information:

Elisabeth Higgins O’Connor. Installation view of (This is Not a) Love Song at Verge Center for the Arts, 2016. Mixed media variable dimensions, each figure app. 12 ft. Courtesy of the artist. Photo by John Wilson White.