How's this for art?
Ramapo College in Mahwah, New Jersey, has been rated number one among regional public community colleges and ninth in the United States for educational value by U.S. News & World Report magazine. Now a six-week art exhibit at the college’s Kresge Gallery threatens to tarnish that reputation.
The guest curator is Isolde Brielmaier, a Ugandan art professor from Vassar College who seems to have a particular affection for anti-social “art” including explicit anti-Jewish themes. One work featured in the exhibit, created by artist Deborah Grant (who has no relationship to Ramapo College), depicts a Jewish rabbi dressed in phylacteries with a Star of David on his yarmulke, holding up Torah scrolls with the Nazi swastika instead of text. The inscription below the image reads: “The Old and the New Testament.” The implication could not be clearer: the Jews’ holy text is fascism and they are the new Nazis.
The exhibition is part of African Ancestry Month. What does such an anti-Semitic image have to do with African ancestry? One also wonders what American taxpayers would make of the exhibition which they are funding in part by grants from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.
For obvious reasons, the college has not been eager to publicize its controversial exhibition. Indeed, I learned of the art only after a Jewish student, upset with the college’s insistence on keeping it in the exhibit during its entire six weeks run, provided a photograph she had secretly taken of it.