HomeMarch 2023Jewish Women’s History Month

Jewish Women’s History Month

The Merage JCC’s Great Jewish Americans 101 presents Michele Mattei: Jewish Women of Age, Influence and Accomplishment

    On the occasion of Jewish Women’s History Month 2023, The Merage JCC’s Great Jewish Americans 101 is pleased to present the exhibition Michele Mattei: Jewish Women of Age, Influence and Accomplishment, curated by Roni Feinstein, art scholar and historian. The exhibition which opens on Sunday, March 12, 2023 at 3 p.m. in the Slutzky Family Art Gallery, is followed by Mattei’s presentation at 4 p.m. On display is a selection of portraits of some of the Jewish women included in Mattei’s extended photographic series, Women of Influence, which celebrates extraordinary women who made significant contributions in the Twentieth Century to the fields of art, science, and social justice. Each of the women photographed and interviewed by Mattei fought against stereotype, invented their own future, and paved the way for our present. Their accomplishments are our heritage. As Mattei has said of these women, all of whom were photographed at age 70 or above, “In their face is written their challenges and their fights, their badge of honor and their reward for having given us the life we live.”

Among the familiar names and faces featured in the exhibition are those of the political activist and feminist Betty Friedan, the actress turned New York State Arts Commissioner Kitty Carlisle Hart, modelling agency founder Eileen Ford, feminist artist Judy Chicago, and short story writer and antiwar activist Grace Paley. Also featured are Ruth Handler, creator of the Barbie Doll, who became an important advocate for women with breast cancer, Dr. Mathilde Krim, a primary medical researcher and fundraiser in the fight against AIDS, Muriel Siebert, who in 1967 became the first woman to gain a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, Isabelle Stevenson, who for more than 30 years was President of the American Theatre Wing and doyenne of the Tony Awards, Eva Zeisel, ceramicist and tableware designer, and actress Gloria Stuart, co-founding member of the Screen Actors Guild and the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League.

Fabulous! was the title given to a solo exhibition of Mattei’s portraits featuring influential women of advanced age held at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington D.C. in 2013, which celebrated the museum’s 25th anniversary. Some of the photographs are now in the collections of the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Newseum.

Michele Mattei has had a long and distinguished career as a journalist, photojournalist, filmmaker, and fine art photographer. Born and educated in Paris, she was recruited by Gamma, the premiere French photo agency to open and head their first Latin American Bureau. A woman in a world of male journalism, she traveled throughout Latin America covering the major political stories. Her fair and accurate portrayals of a continent in upheaval attracted the heads of governments and she was awarded exclusive interviews with several heads of state, including Eduardo Frei, Salvador Allende, Augusto Pinochet, and Juan and Isabel Peron. As the political situation grew increasingly dangerous, she relocated to Los Angeles and opened Gamma’s first California bureau. She then initiated her own agency, Mega Productions, which supplied photographs and texts to an international media network. Living and working in Los Angeles since that time, she has engaged in a wide range of projects. These include documenting the adverse effects of silicone implants on women’s bodies, producing a photographic series that captures the natural beauty of seashells and flowers, and creating an award-winning documentary for public television, The Longest Holiday, on older adults in Sun City, Arizona. Several of her book projects and photographic series, like Women of Influence, have focused on individuals who have lived creative, fulfilling, and impactful lives.

For more information contact Aliza Sable at: alizas@jccoc.org or Geri Dorman at: gerid@jccoc.org or please visit: https://www.jccoc.org/events/2023/03/12/primetime-lifelong-learning/great-jewish-americans-celebrates-jewish-women-s-history-month.


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