A Nice Jewish Girl: A Preview of Jamie Sneider’s Contribution to ‘Jew York’

  • We’re pretty excited for “Jew York,” the amazingly named summer group show that will occupy Chelsea’s Zach Feuer Gallery and Untitled on the Lower East Side. The exhibition opens June 20 and will feature “contemporary work of America’s Jews in their natural habitats—the Lower East Side and Chelsea.” There’s a huge artist list, which includes such diverse participants as Roy Lichtenstein, the sculptor Joel Shapiro and Untitled’s proprietor, Joel Mesler. One piece to look out for is Jamie Sneider’s The Year of the Jewish Woman, a 2009 pin-up calendar featuring Ms. Sneider in a variety of salacious poses alongside Jewish foodstuffs and traditional objects. She printed 1,000 of the calendars and sold them through her blog (they were somewhat of a hit with members of the Israeli army, Ms. Sneider said), and they continued selling even after 2009 ended and the calendars became functionally useless. Ms. Sneider used the pictures as her application to graduate studies at the School of Visual Arts, but this is the first time that they’ll appear in a gallery setting.

    “Nobody thinks of a Jewish calendar,” Ms. Sneider said on the phone. “You only see them at the funeral home or the temple. I was researching bikini culture, and I was thinking if there was ever a Jewish Playboy cover. There were only maybe one or two.”

    The piece was made when Ms. Sneider was living in L.A., living behind am Orthodox cantor and coming to terms with her own Jewish identity. One day, she bought some Challah, laid out naked on a large wooden table in her house “like a Shabbat dinner” and had her partner at the time take her picture. From there, she found a professional photographer, started making costumes and sculpting giant clay dreidels. She also borrowed shofars from an Orthodox store, telling the employees that she was using them for a photo shoot with children; she wasn’t.

    “It began to be this endless fantasy of what I could do,” Ms. Sneider said.

    (All photos by Jamie Sneider, courtesy Zach Feuer Gallery and Untitled Gallery, New York)

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