Illustrated lecture with curator Professor Samantha Baskind

An artwork of Siona Benjamin's on display at the Skirball Museum.

Courtesy of the Skirball Museum. Lilith in the New World, Siona Benjamin, 2008, mixed media installation, 12 ‘ H x 15’ W x 4’ D. Photograph by Janine Spang.

Submitted by the Skirball Museum. 

In conjunction with its exhibition, “Beyond Borders: The Art of Siona Benjamin,” the Skirball Museum is offering an illustrated lecture by Professor Samantha Baskind. Dr. Baskind curated the exhibition, which has appeared at the Norton Center for the Arts at Centre College, Danville, KY, the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, and the Galleries at CSU, Cleveland State University. The Skirball Museum is the final venue for the exhibition. The lecture will take place on Wednesday, May 31 at 7 p.m. in Mayerson Hall on the historic Cincinnati campus of HUC-JIR. The program will also be delivered via Livestream.

Dr. Baskind, Distinguished Professor of Art History at Cleveland State University, will discuss how Siona Benjamin’s layered and multifaceted identity influences her artwork. The art in the exhibition has been shaped by Benjamin’s diverse, complex experiences, which find form in history, religion, and mythology, as powerfully seen by the intriguing figures and symbols that populate her art. Mingling styles derived from comic books, Pop art, Bollywood, Indian and Persian miniatures, and Hebrew illuminated manuscripts, Benjamin blends tradition with innovation, while navigating feelings of inclusion and exclusion. Dr. Baskind comments: “One of Benjamin’s goals is to demonstrate the complexity of the Jewish experience. Her art demonstrates the Jewish people are not monolithic––that Jews come in different shapes, sizes and colors, and are not just white and Ashkenazi. Jews live all around the world and her work opens up conversations about difference and sameness.”

Dr. Baskind is the author of five books and more than one hundred articles, mainly on Jewish American art. She was also the curator of “Archie Rand: Sixty Paintings from the Bible,” which appeared at the Skirball Museum 2020-2021. Her research focuses mostly on nineteenth- and twentieth-century Jewish American art and culture. Her current book project, about the nineteenth-century sculptor Moses Jacob Ezekiel, seeks to reconstruct his body of work, explore the influence of his Jewish identity on his art, and more broadly, to investigate the country’s effort to memorialize the Confederacy, through art, in the years after the Civil War. This project is funded by the Southern Jewish Historical Society and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

To register for the lecture or to learn more about public programs, please contact the Skirball Museum, Autumn Wheeler, or visit the Cincinnati Skirball museum website to register online. “Beyond Borders: The Art of Siona Benjamin” is on view at the Skirball Museum through July 30, 2023. This lecture is the Skirball’s final nod to Jewish-American Heritage Month, which each May celebrates the contributions and experiences of Jewish Americans.