‘Symbolism’ showcases Jewish art at Catholic university

Emilee Geist

An exhibition showcasing an artist’s Jewish collages is on display at a South Florida Catholic university’s museum. “Symbolism,” which features eight of artist and architect Robert M. Swedroe’s artworks, can be viewed at St. Thomas University’s Archbishop John C. Favalora Archive & Museum, 16401 N.W. 37th Ave. in Miami Gardens, […]

An exhibition showcasing an artist’s Jewish collages is on display at a South Florida Catholic university’s museum.

“Symbolism,” which features eight of artist and architect Robert M. Swedroe’s artworks, can be viewed at St. Thomas University’s Archbishop John C. Favalora Archive & Museum, 16401 N.W. 37th Ave. in Miami Gardens, through Jan. 22, 2021.

Among the objects and symbols featured in Swedroe’s colorful collages include the Ten Commandments, a blue Star of David, a menorah and more.

Swedroe, who lives in Surfside, said the whole exhibition is about Jewish symbolism. He mentioned that he worked on a lot of religious art 47 years ago, when he created most of the exhibition’s collages.

“The artwork sold very well to synagogues primarily in New York, and they all have symbols that are very significant,” he continued.

While Swedroe worked on most of the exhibition’s works in 1972 and 1973, he also made one in 2019 and another in 2006.

Isabel M. Medina, the exhibition’s curator and Favalora Museum’s assistant archivist and coordinator, explained the importance of showcasing the Jewish artworks at the university.

“Even though we’re a Catholic university, we practice inclusion and diversity, and we’re open to everybody,” Medina said. “This exhibition is also very educational. The more we know about everybody’s faiths, the better the relationship between everybody will be. It’s very educational to know what all the symbols that he has in each of the collages mean.”

Jerry Levine, a filmmaker who has produced Jewish-interest independent films, said regarding Swedroe’s work, “Judaism means different things to different people.”

“When I look at Bob’s Jewish works, I see a man connecting with the Almighty in the most personal and intimate manner,” he continued. “I see a scientific mind approaching religion and making peace with the two worlds. I see a person in prayer, using a road map of his own design to connect with the source of all creation.”

Levine added, “What I take away from those collages is 3,000 of pride.”

Levine noted the take aways are “pride and mystification,” and “pride in a people who have survived the best and the worst the world could throw at them.”

“I see the Ark of the Covenant, the rampant Lion of Judah and the 10 Commandments,” he continued. “I see historic icons and symbols of persistence, ethics and wisdom that make me very proud as a Jew. And I also see a people’s survival against all odds that remains mystifying and beyond rational explanation.”

The exhibition is free of charge to view, and guests must follow COVID-19 safety protocols such as mask wearing and distancing. The museum’s hours of operations are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday-Thursdays, and 10.am. to 5 p.m. on Fridays. Weekend visits are by appointment only.

Contact Medina at [email protected] or 305-628-6769 to schedule a weekend appointment or for more information on the exhibition.

Visit stu.edu/library/archive-museum/ for more information on the museum, stu.edu/coronavirus/ on the safety guidelines and stu.edu/about-stu/map-directions/ for directions.

Visit swedroeart.com for more information on the artist.

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©2020 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com

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