Best Practices: adDRESSING women’s lives 2008
Although I had done other interviews in the past, I always seemed to dread the idea of sitting someone down and asking intrusive questions. However, this interview was entirely different. My aunt suddenly … knocked on my door, ran into my room and begged me to begin the interview right away because she was just so excited … The interview began, and I truly enjoyed it. I didn’t want it to end. She kept telling me all of these wondrous stories about my family and her life which I had never even imagined… I learned so much from her and the experience that now when she or any other relatives come to visit, I make it a priority to sit with them and listen to all their stories, and even dig deeper, ask further questions to grasp all I can from their vivid and incredible lives.” —Celia Feuer, student at Weber School
In 2002 humanities and Bible teacher Barbara Rosenblit and conceptual artist Sheila Miller, both members of the faculty at the Weber School in Atlanta, conceived of an innovative interdisciplinary project for high school juniors and seniors taking a seminar on the history of Jewish women in America.
Every year since then, each student in the class has interviewed a Jewish woman 75 or older, sometimes a family member, sometimes a total stranger. Rosenblit uses In Our Own Voices: A Guide to Conducting Life History Interviews with American Jewish Women, developed by the Jewish Women’s Archive, to help the students become oral historians.
Each student then works with Miller over a two month period to create a mixed-media work—this year in the shape of a dress form—that reveals something important that they have learned about each woman’s character and life experiences.
This year’s project, titled adDRESSING women’s lives, was displayed in an exhibition at the Marcus Jewish Community Center in Atlanta. Watch a video of the exhibition:
A slide show is also available on flickr.com, where you will also find photographs of the artists and narrators at the December 2008 exhibition opening and panel discussion. Each work is paired with a short biography of the woman and an artist’s statement.