Milton J. Weill Art Gallery

Gallery Information

The Milton J. Weill Art Gallery is open to patrons of Kaufmann Concert Hall during regularly scheduled events. In addition, special viewing hours can be arranged.

To schedule an appointment, please call 212.415.5563.

Learn about renting Weill Art Gallery

Current Exhibition


Jewish Treasures of the Caribbean

Mar 15 — May 1, 2016
Photographs by Wyatt Gallery

Opening Reception: Thu, Mar 17, 5-6:45 pm

For viewing hours, please contact the Art Center office at 212.415.5562.

Project Description

Jewish Treasures of The Caribbean photographically captures the little-known history of the Sephardic Jews of the Caribbean, as seen through the remaining historic sites in Barbados, Curaçao, Jamaica, Nevis, St. Croix, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, St. Eustatius, and Suriname. These Jewish communities date back to the early 1600’s and are home to the oldest synagogues and Jewish cemeteries in the Western hemisphere. These modern day treasures beautifully exemplify the strength of the Jewish people as well as the surprisingly diverse cultural history of the Caribbean.

Now facing extinction, the Sephardic Jewish communities of the Caribbean were once so strong and influential that they helped fuel the success of the American Revolution, and finance the first synagogues in the United States, located in New York City and Rhode Island.

History

In the 1600’s, the West Indies became a place of salvation for Sephardic Jews who had fled to Amsterdam and Brazil after the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions. La Nación, as these Jews were called, were fundamental in shaping the early Caribbean economy through their unique knowledge of sugar cane cultivation, agriculture, and an expansive network of trade. Some Jews also joined the pirates controlling the Caribbean seas, and later became influential politicians, plantation landowners, and bankers to the American colonies. While creating financial success for the European powers, the Sephardic Jews managed to prosper and keep their culture, religion, and customs alive — which lead to the continuation and support of Judaism throughout the Americas.

Why This is Important

Once home to thousands of Sephardic Jews, these historic communities are now facing extinction. Only 5 synagogues remain and almost half of the original cemeteries are either falling apart, or have been lost to natural disasters, vandalism, pollution, and the elements of time. The few historic landmarks still in use are little known gems of the Caribbean and invaluable landmarks in the Jewish history of survival. Harry Ezratty, author of 500 Years In The Jewish Caribbean writes: “Having revisited many of these historic sites, it is certain that these unique monuments of the Jewish people are in peril.”

Through these photographs we witness the legacy of Judaism and a rarely explored facet of Caribbean history.

Artist Bio

Wyatt Gallery, a person not a place, received his BFA in photography at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University in 1997. In 1998, Wyatt received a Rosenberg grant and traveled the Caribbean photographing Spiritual Sites for nine months. After spending a month in Trinidad, he knew he had to live there and returned months later on a Fulbright Fellowship and spent two years photographing the diverse cultural history of Trinidad seen through its religious places, landscapes, people and their homes.

Gallery has received numerous awards such as the PDN 30, PDN Annual, American Photography and 25 Under 25 Up-and-Coming American Photographers by Duke University. He was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and has continued to inspire students through lectures at SVA, NYU, and PENN. His work has been published in numerous books and magazines such as Esquire, The New York Times, Departures, Geo Saison, Mother Jones and Afar to name a few. Wyatt’s photographs have been exhibited throughout the world and are in major private and public collections such as the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the George Eastman House, the New Orleans Museum of Art and American Express, amongst others.

In 2010, Gallery dedicated his year to photographing in Haiti and raising awareness of the tragic living conditions after the devastating earthquake of January 12th. In January 2011, he published Tent Life: Haiti with Umbrage Editions and it quickly received worldwide press attention, won multiple awards, and sold out of the first edition in three months. The Open Society by George Soros featured Tent Life: Haiti in the Moving Walls 19 Exhibition. Gallery also donated 100% of the royalties to Haitian relief organizations and raised over $40,000 USD in total.

Gallery’s photos can be seen at www.wyattgallery.com and www.tentlifehaiti.com.

Upcoming Exhibition

92Y Art Center's Annual Children and Teen Exhibition

May 3 — 16, 2016

Opening Reception: Mon, May 9, 5-6:45 pm


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