Come hear Brazilian-American Jewish artist Jônatas Chimen talk about discovering his family’s Crypto-Jewish heritage and explore his interactive art exhibit.
Jônatas didn’t know that he was Jewish until he was 18. He grew up with Jewish practices, and knew he was part of a special community in Brazil, but it was only when he moved to Miami at age 16 and people commented that he might be Jewish that he started his quest to discover his origins. Jônatas can trace his family history back to the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisition. He marked his embrace of Jewish practice through a special Orthodox return ceremony rather than a conversion, since his ancestors never abandoned their faith even in the face of persecution.
As an artist and scholar, Jônatas has experience traveling the world to share how his personal story comes through in his artistic creations. He talks about broader experiences of Jewish identity, immigration, and exile. His famous tent creation, named “In Thy Tent I Dwell”, is a huge collage of letters, photographs, documents from his family history, as well as a quarantine room that exiles were put in, and contains sounds and smells from the places Jônatas’s ancestors lived. The experience of assembling the tent is a powerful experience for most people, whose input makes the Tent a collective project.