Following the well-received recent opening of Inquiry 01, an exhibition of new work by the inaugural cohort of its Chicago Jewish Artists Fellowship, Spertus Institute of Jewish Learning and Leadership has announced the selection of its second cohort of eight accomplished artists and writers.

The 2018-19 fellows work in a broad range of media including, this year, the written word. In conjunction with the fellowship, they will conduct individual and collective research into the Jewish aspects of their identity and artistic practice.

The 2018-19 Chicago Jewish Artists Fellows, all of whom live and work in the Chicago area, are: Elana Adler, Dana Carter, Tirtza Evan, Julia Klein, Jaclyn Mednicov, William J. O’Brien, Ben Segal, and Maggie Taft.

The 2018-19 program officially starts in September. New projects culminating the artists’ exploration and collaboration will be on display under the Inquiry 02 banner at the Spertus Institute’s Ground Level Arts Lab in May 2019.

The fellowship program is co-directed by Spertus Institute’s Curator of Collections and Exhibitions Ionit Behar and curator, writer, and educator Ruslana Lichtzier. As established with the 2017-18 inaugural cohort, artists will have the opportunity to learn from leading scholars, visit artists’ studies, and work closely with objects from Spertus Institute’s collections and archives. Through monthly meetings, the fellows will engage and collaborate with each other, exploring topics from the complexities of Jewish heritage to how Jewish ethics and rituals intersect with contemporary politics.

​Of the inaugural cohort experience, Behar said, “When we selected the first fellows we didn’t know how the program was going to develop, how the artists were going to feel about each other… but it couldn’t have been better! It was a fantastic year of explorations and friendship. The support, interest, and cooperation by the fellows made this experience unique and encouraging. We very much look forward to another year of “inquiry” with the new artists and writers.”

Lichtzier added, “Last year we invited artists from different disciplines, with different backgrounds, and in different stages in their careers, to explore together their Jewish identities with a group of colleagues, in an environment designed for camaraderie, self-reflection, and study. This year we are excited to include creative and critical writers, which will expand the individual and group explorations even further.”

The 2018-19 fellows’ work includes video, installation, sculpture, multi-media, writing, painting, photography, collage and ceramics. All have exhibited and presented in prestigious venues nationally and around the world.

​Exhibitions at Spertus Institute are made possible in part by the Harry and Sadie Lasky and Charles & M.R. Shapiro Foundations.  

More information can be found at 

Spertus Institute Announces 2018-2019 Cohort of Jewish Artist Fellows

Artist William J. O'Brien in his studio (photo by Robert Chase Heishman).